Polk County Health Department

2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)

2019 Novel Coronavirus Information 

What is 2019 novel coronavirus? 
The 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is a new virus that causes respiratory illness in people and can spread from person-to-person. This virus was first identified during an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China.

Are all coronaviruses the same?
Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). The 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.

Can people in the U.S. get 2019-nCoV? 
This 2019-nCoV virus does seem to be able to spread from person-to-person although it’s not clear how easily this happens. The first case of person-to-person 2019 Novel Coronavirus in the United States was identified January 30, 2020. This virus was spread to a close prolonged household contact. The likelihood of someone in the U.S. getting sick with this virus remains very low. Right now, the greatest risk of infection is for people in Wuhan or people who have traveled to Wuhan and less so, other parts of China. CDC continues to closely monitor the situation.

Have there been cases of 2019-nCoV in the U.S.?
Yes. The first infection with 2019-nCoV in the United States was reported on January 21, 2020. The current count of cases of infection with 2019-nCoV in the United States is available on CDC’s webpage.

How does 2019-nCoV spread? 
The exact way the virus is spread is not fully known. With similar coronaviruses (MERS and SARS) person-to-person spread is thought to have happened mainly via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how influenza and other viruses that cause respiratory illness spread. There also may be some spread when a person touches a surface or object that has virus on it and then touches his or her own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes. Spread of SARS and MERS between people has generally occurred between close contacts. There is much more to learn about 2019-nCoV and investigations are ongoing.

What are the symptoms of 2019-nCoV? 
Patients with 2019-nCoV have reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of: 

  • fever
  • cough
  • shortness of breath

What are severe complications from this virus? 
Many patients have pneumonia in both lungs.

How can I help protect myself?
This virus is not spreading in the United States right now. 

The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to a virus. There are simple everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses. 
These include:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick. 
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • 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.

If you are sick, to keep from spreading your illness to others, you should:  Stay home when you are sick. 
Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. 
Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

What should I do if I recently traveled to China and got sick? 
If you are sick and traveled to China in the 14 days before you became ill, you should get medical care. Call the office of your health care provider before you go and tell them about your travel and your symptoms. They will give you instructions on how to get care without exposing other people to your illness. While sick, avoid contact with people, don’t go out and delay any travel to reduce the possibility of spreading illness to others.

Is there a vaccine? 
There is currently no vaccine to protect against 2019-nCoV. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus.

Is there a treatment?
There is no specific antiviral treatment for 2019-nCoV. People with 2019-nCov can seek medical care to help relieve symptoms. 

For more information, please call the Polk County Health Department’s Communicable Disease Team: (515) 286-3890.

2019 Novel Coronavirus Fact Sheet

*Information provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and World Health Organization

Updated 1/31/2020

Contact Us

Phone: (515)-286-3798
Fax: (515)-286-2033
Toll free: 866-209-1300

Address: 1907, Carpenter Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50314