Health officials are reporting the first U.S. case of person-to-person spread of the Coronavirus has occurred in Illinois.
The Associated Press is reporting that the man is married to the Chicago woman who got sick from the virus after she returned from a trip to Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the outbreak.
The Chicago woman returned from central China on Jan. 13, then last week went to a hospital with symptoms and was diagnosed with the viral illness. She and her husband, both in their 60s, are hospitalized in stable condition.
There have been cases reported of the infectious virus spreading to others in a household or workplace in China and elsewhere. The new case is the sixth reported in the United States. The other five were travelers who developed the illness after returning to the U.S. from China. The latest patient had not been in China.
The Illinois Department of Public Health announced today that 21 possible cases of coronavirus are currently being investigated in Illinois, and The World Heath Organization declared the outbreak a global emergency today after the number of cases worldwide spiked tenfold in a week.
Health officials think the new virus spreads mainly from droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how the flu spreads.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Illinois health officials said that health workers and people who have been in contact with the latest patient are being monitored for symptoms.
The virus can cause fever, coughing, wheezing and pneumonia. It is a member of the coronavirus family that’s a close cousin to the SARS and MERS viruses that have caused outbreaks in the past. The new virus has sickened thousands, mostly in China, and killed about 170.
An international outbreak caused by the virus first emerged last month in China. Doctors there began seeing the new virus in people who got sick after spending time at a wholesale food market in Wuhan. Officials said the virus probably initially spread from animals to people, as did SARS and MERS.