Ohio Department of Health monitoring Coronavirus


Staff Report



The Ohio Department of Health (ODH), in coordination with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is closely monitoring the 2019 novel (new) coronavirus first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China in December 2019.

The first case in the United States was announced January 21, 2020, in Washington state. There are ongoing investigations by the CDC to learn more. There are currently no known cases in Scioto County or Ohio. ODH is providing guidance to state and local health agencies and health care providers.

As of January 30, 2020, the CDC has confirmed six cases of 2019-nCoV in the United States. It also has identified one case of the virus spreading person-to-person from close, sustained contact, between spouses in Illinois.

In Ohio, two possible cases are being monitored in Miami University students in Butler County. The students have been isolated, and ODH is awaiting test results from the CDC.

The risk to the general public remains low, and the CDC recommends Americans use typical infectious disease precautions, just as those used to prevent cold or flu:

Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.

Cover coughs/sneezes with your arm or a tissue.

Avoid exposure to others who are sick.

Stay home when you are ill.

Amy Acton, MD, MPH, Director of ODH, declared 2019-nCoV, a Class A reportable infectious disease on January 23, 2020.

Classifying a disease as Class A means that confirmed or possible cases of 2019-nCoV must be reported immediately to the local health district where the person lives (or the local health district where the person is being evaluated if the person’s residence is unknown or not in Ohio). Required reporters include physicians providing care, administrators in charge of hospitals, clinics or other institutions providing care or treatment, laboratory administrators, or any individual having knowledge of a person with 2019-nCoV.

CDC has advised health care providers to obtain a detailed travel history for patients being evaluated with fever and acute respiratory illness and to immediately notify their local or state health department in the event that they have a patient under investigation for 2019-nCoV.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing illness in people and others that circulate among animals, including camels, cats, and bats. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can evolve and infect people and then spread such as has been seen with Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) in 2014 and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003, and now with 2019-nCoV.

When person-to-person spread occurred with SARS and MERS, it is thought to have happened via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how influenza and other respiratory pathogens spread. The spread of SARS and MERS between people has generally occurred between close contacts.

In response to this outbreak in China, officials are exit screening for travelers leaving the city of Wuhan and several countries and territories in the region are reported to have implemented health screening of travelers arriving from Wuhan. The United States started screening travelers arriving from Wuhan on January 17, 2020.

On arrival to the United States, travelers from Wuhan may undergo health screening, including having their temperature taken and filling out a symptom questionnaire. Travelers with signs and symptoms of illness (fever, cough, or difficulty breathing) will have an additional health assessment.

If you traveled to affected areas outside the U.S. where 2019-nCoV outbreaks have been identified (e.g. Wuhan, China) and feel sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, you should:

Seek medical care right away. Before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.

Avoid contact with others.

Not travel while sick.

Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.

Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.

What happens if a case is reported?

A case or possible case of 2019-nCoV is reported to a local health department.

The local health department alerts the ODH.

ODH reports to the CDC.

Currently, testing for this virus must take place at CDC.

What is public health doing to protect Ohioans?

Ohio’s public health system includes a team of local and state partners who perform daily monitoring of reportable diseases, including 2019-nCoV.

ODH is monitoring this situation in lockstep with the CDC, and will be ready to respond if a case should be confirmed in Ohio.

CDC considers U.S. risk low at this time.

Staff Report