2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is a virus (more specifically, a coronavirus) identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China. Early on, many of the patients in the outbreak in Wuhan, China reportedly had some link to a large seafood and animal market, suggesting animal-to-person spread. However, a growing number of patients reportedly have not had exposure to animal markets, indicating person-to-person spread is occurring. At this time, it’s unclear how easily or sustainably this virus is spreading between people.
How 2019-nCoV Spreads
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can infect people and then spread between people such as with MERS and SARS.
When person-to-person spread has occurred with MERS and SARS, it is thought to have happened mainly via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how influenza and other respiratory pathogens spread. Spread of SARS and MERS between people has generally occurred between close contacts.
It’s important to note that how easily a virus spreads person-to-person can vary. Some viruses are highly contagious (like measles), while other viruses are less so. It’s important to know this in order to better understand the risk associated with this virus. While CDC considers this is a very serious public health threat, based on current information, the immediate health risk from 2019-nCoV to the general American public is considered low at this time.
There is much more to learn about the transmissibility, severity, and other features associated with 2019-nCoV and investigations are ongoing. The latest situation summary updates are available on CDC’s web page 2019 Novel Coronavirus, Wuhan, China.
There is currently no vaccine to prevent 2019-nCoV infection. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including:
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
1. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
2. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
3. Stay home when you are sick.
4. Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
5. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
There is no specific antiviral treatment recommended for 2019-nCoV infection. People infected with 2019-nCoV should receive supportive care to help relieve symptoms. For severe cases, treatment should include care to support vital organ functions.
People who think they may have been exposed to 2019-nCoV should contact your healthcare provider immediately.