What to Know
- The latest patient had "close contact" with the first Chicago case and recently reported symptoms, health officials said
- It is the second person in Illinois to be diagnosed and the sixth confirmed case in the U.S.
- The man's wife first contracted the virus after she traveled to Wuhan, China - the epicenter of a recent outbreak. She returned to the U.S. on Jan. 13 and later started experiencing symptoms
The spouse of a Chicago woman who was diagnosed with coronavirus last week has now tested positive for the virus, marking the first instance of person-to-person spread in the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Thursday.
The latest patient had "close contact" with his wife and recently reported symptoms, health officials said. He was admitted to an area hospital Tuesday and is in stable condition, said Dr. Ngozi O. Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health. He does have "underlying medical conditions" and will remain hospitalized, officials said.
It is the second person in Illinois to be diagnosed and the sixth confirmed case in the U.S.
The man's wife first contracted the virus after she traveled to Wuhan, China - the epicenter of a recent outbreak. She returned to the U.S. on Jan. 13 and later started experiencing symptoms including a fever and shortness of breath. She was listed in good condition at a Hoffman Estates hospital and remains stable, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.
She had "very limited movement outside her home" following her return from China, public health officials said, and neither her nor her husband have taken public transit or attended any large gatherings while showing symptoms.
"This may be concerning, but based on what we know now, our assessment remains that the immediate risk to the American public is low," said Robert Redfield with the CDC.
Currently, 21 patients are under investigation in Illinois in what health experts said is a "rapidly evolving situation."
"Again this is not spreading widely in communities and the general public is believed to be at low risk," said Jennifer Layden, Illinois state epidemiologist.
Still, DuPage County health officials said Wednesday they were contacting residents who may have been exposed to the Chicago woman who was diagnosed, saying that some residents "meet the definition of persons under investigation and who are currently being tested."
"It can be a point of concern but we are not considering it to be a point of panic or alarm," said DuPage County Health Department Executive Director Karen Ayala, adding that the "general population is at low risk."
The department declined to give numbers on how many people were contacted but said members of the community "have had some sort of contact" with the Chicago woman.
"In a county of a million, it’s a very small amount of folks," Ayala said.
While there are many questions still left to be answered on the new virus, such as how quickly it spreads, the CDC said it expected some person-to-person cases.
The latest diagnosis brings the total number of cases in the US to six confirmed cases, though the five other patients had each traveled to the hardest-hit part of China before becoming ill.
The Indiana State Department of Health and the Centers of Disease and Control issued a statement Tuesday indicating that they have identified a person who could potentially be infected with the novel coronavirus.
"Final diagnosis awaits the results of laboratory tests to be performed by the CDC," the statement read. "Out of an abundance of caution, the individual has been placed in isolation and is currently under active medical supervision.”
The virus has already killed more than 170 people, sparking travel warnings and airport screenings around the world. South Korea also reported a case that was locally spread after a man who had contact with a patient was diagnosed, the Associated Press reports.
British Airways has halted all flights to China and American Airlines stopped flights out of Los Angeles to and from Shanghai and Beijing.
Citizens from the US and European countries have been evacuated from central China due to concerns over the virus.