Continue to Watch for Coronavirus, Health Officials Say
By David Doolittle


Although no cases of the new coronavirus that originated in China have been confirmed in Texas, physicians are urged to use precaution with patients who have a fever and/or symptoms of lower respiratory illness, U.S. health officials said Friday.

The recommendations for infection control are similar for any patient showing symptoms of an airborne respiratory virus, and include:

  • Masking and isolating the patient behind a closed door;
  • Wearing protective gear (goggles, gown, respirator mask) when caring for the patient; and
  • Washing hands and disinfecting equipment and surfaces that may have come in contact with the patient.

In a conference call Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said there is still a very low risk to the general public of infection with the new coronavirus. CDC officials also said there is no antiviral treatment currently available, and only the CDC lab can confirm a case of the coronavirus, which has been named 2019 nCoV.

Physicians and other health care workers should consider a 2019 nCoV case if a patient is showing symptoms after having traveled to mainland China within 14 days of symptom onset, updated CDC guidance says. Suspected cases should be reported to your local health department, CDC said.

In a conference call earlier last week, state health officials recommended that physicians tell patients to take the usual precautions to avoid spreading viruses, including receiving a flu shot.

“The message to patients should be the same for avoiding influenza or other [germs] that are circulating this time of year: Wash your hands; avoid contact with sick individuals; avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth; cover your coughs and sneezes; and stay home if you are sick,” said Jennifer A. Shuford, MD, infectious disease medical officer for the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS).

In Texas, 1,700 cases of flu-like illness were reported in the week that ended Jan. 25, DSHS said Friday. Fifteen Texas children have died of flu-related illness since September, the DSHS report said.

You can find more tools and resources to help you and your patients prevent flu as well as the novel coronavirus on the DSHS website.

Last Updated On

February 03, 2020

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David Doolittle


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Dave Doolittle is editor of Texas Medicine and Texas Medicine Today. Dave grew up in Austin, where he attended culinary school as well as the University of Texas. He spent years covering Central Texas for the Austin American-Statesman newspaper. He is the father of two girls, a proud Longhorn, and an avid motorsports fan.

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