Missouri has had no confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus but is monitoring its progress to prevent the spread of the virus.

In a news release Monday from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, the agency said it was working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to stay up to date on new cases and information.

There has been only one suspected case in Missouri, but that person tested negative for the virus. Missouri University of Science and Technology reported that one person on its campus had tested negative after meeting the criteria.

There have been five confirmed cases within the states of Washington, Illinois, Arizona and California as of Monday morning.

The 2019 novel coronavirus is a new respiratory virus first identified in Wuhan, China, according to the CDC.

Hariharan Regunath, an MU Health Care infectious disease specialist, said the virus belongs to a big family — coronaviruses — along with severe acute respiratory syndrome and Middle East respiratory syndrome.

The CDC said the virus probably emerged from an animal source in a market in Wuhan and spread from animals to humans. “Human-to-human transmission has been suspected, but I don’t know if there are any proven cases yet,” Regunath said Monday. “We will have to wait for more data.”

On Tuesday, German medical authorities confirmed human-to-human transmission. In that case, thought to be the first in Europe, the man became ill after having contact with a colleague who had been to China.

Columbia residents who are not traveling to China or receiving guests from Wuhan or its neighboring cities have no cause for concern, Regunath said. Worry about the flu instead, he said.

In the release from Missouri’s Department of Health and Senior Services, the agency said it would continue its surveillance of the disease.

Health care providers were instructed to ask patients about recent travel if they develop a fever, cough or have difficulty breathing. Patients are asked to call their health care provider and inform them that they have been to Wuhan or had close contact with someone who has been there before going to a doctor’s office.

  • Public Safety and Health reporter, Spring 2020. Studying data journalism. Reach me at hanjiang@mail.missouri.edu, or in the newsroom at 882-5720.

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