Doctor expects coronavirus to spread after second case confirmed in U.S.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed a second case of the new coronavirus in the U.S.

A Chicago woman is the second person confirmed in the United States with the coronavirus.

Major landmarks in China have closed because of the virus. This includes Shanghai Disneyland and part of the Great Wall of China.

Health officials say the virus is spreading at an alarming rate, killing 41 people and infecting more than 800 in China.

Dr. Pritish Tosh is an infectious diseases specialist at Mayo Clinic.

“Thankfully, we’ve been preparing for something like this for a long time,” Tosh said.

Tosh said to prevent the virus from spreading, doctors need to ask patients with respiratory illnesses and fevers about where they recently traveled.

“They may have been to a part of the Middle East where there is ongoing MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome) infections. They may also have been in Wuhan, China,” explained Tosh.

Tosh said it’s important to keep in mind that there are still many unknowns about the virus.

"We don’t quite yet fully understand the epidemiology, but what we do know is this is a new disease with the potential to cause severe illness,” said Tosh.

The CDC is investigating more than 60 potential cases of the virus in 22 states. It plans to set up health screenings at major airports where travelers coming from Wuhan, China, would pass through.

People who travel through Jacksonville International Airport say it’s needed.

It’s scary because you don’t know a lot about it,” said traveler Kaleigh Burlingame.

Either a cure or containment or something like that to help us put the public at ease,” Damon West said.

“I have faith in the ability of the American medical system to find antidotes,” said Henry Steinhauer.

The most recent case of the virus involves a Chicago woman in her 60′s who traveled to Wuhan, China, where the outbreak began. The CDC said the woman wasn’t showing any symptoms at first, but when she returned home, she started getting sick days later.

Before that happened, a Washington state man in his 30′s tested positive for the virus. He had also traveled to Wuhan.

Tosh said the Mayo Clinic is closely monitoring the coronavirus outbreak and staff is trained and prepared to care for patients.

"And, so, we are able to move to a more operational approach that categorizes infections that we know, but also infections that we don’t know,” Tosh said.

Tosh compared the outbreak to the 2003 outbreak of SARS, which had a short incubation period of two to seven days.

He reminds people this coronavirus outbreak is a moving target and to take the numbers with a grain of salt.

A JIA spokesman told Action News Jax reporter Jamarlo Phillips the CDC is currently monitoring 14 other airports. The Jacksonville International Airport is not one of them.