Federal health officials identify first human-to-human transmission of the deadly coronavirus

CDC map of confirmed coronavirus cases. Screenshot, CDC.

Health officials in the United States are monitoring the spread of a mysterious virus that first erupted in China and now has landed in Illinois, with a new case unlike the previous ones.

During a press call on Thursday held by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, health officials confirmed the first human-to-human transmission of the coronavirus, described as Novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), between a husband and wife.

“Today in conjunction with the Illinois Department of Health, CDC is announcing the first instance of person-to-person spread of the new coronavirus in the United States,” said CDC Director Robert R. Redfield, M.D.

The previous five confirmed cases were linked to people who traveled to Wuhan, China, where the outbreak has been ongoing since first detected in December of last year.

The Florida Phoenix has reported that so far, there have been no known cases of the virus in Florida, but Miami International Airport has been screening international travelers as a precaution.

The new patient, who is a Chicago resident, didn’t have any history of traveling to China, health officials from the Illinois Department of Public Health said.

The husband, whose identity remains anonymous, got infected from his wife who had traveled to China previously, officials noted.

“A woman in her 60s who returned from Wuhan, China on Jan. 13 is in the hospital in stable condition and continues to do well,” the department official said. “This second person testing positive for the virus is a resident of Chicago.” [Wuhan is a city in China with a high number of reported cases of the virus]

Illinois health officials declined to comment on his specific symptoms during the call but they told reporters that he went to the hospital after feeling sick. “He was placed in an isolation room and is in stable condition,” the department said.

The CDC says the virus symptoms include cough, fever, headache, sore throat and runny nose.

Redfield added: “CDC has expected to identify some person-to-person spread in the United States. We understand that this may be concerning but based on what we know now are assessment remains that the immediate risk is low.”

“The vast majority of Americans have not had recent travel to China. Our goal is to contain this outbreak, this is why our response has been aggressive.”

Illinois health officials said “residents are at low risk of contracting the disease, but 21 patients are under investigation in the state.”

The World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a public health emergency during a Thursday meeting, CNN reported.

Issac Morgan
Issac Morgan is a 2009 graduate of Florida A&M University's School of Journalism, and a proud native of Tallahassee. He has covered city council and community events at the Gadsden County Times, worked as a sports news assistant at the Tallahassee Democrat, a communications specialist for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and as a proofreader at the Florida Law Weekly.