January 29, 2020

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Oregon Health Authority are closely following an outbreak of a new virus that began in Wuhan City, China in December 2019.

This respiratory infection is called a “novel coronavirus. Other outbreaks of coronaviruses, like “SARS” and “MERS”, have caused serious illness. Health officials are still learning about this illness, so advice may change as more information becomes available.

There have been thousands of people infected with this new coronavirus, most of them in China. Many fewer cases have been reported in other countries, including the United States. The first reported case of this virus in the United States was Jan. 21 in Washington State in someone who had recently traveled to Wuhan, China. 

What we know

This outbreak probably started after contact with sick animals. The first people who got sick visited the same animal market in Wuhan City, China. That market closed, but cases are still being reported. The virus is now spreading from person to person, and health experts believe it spreads mainly through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how influenza spreads.

Symptoms can include cough, trouble breathing and a fever. People who have underlying medical conditions may be at higher risk of severe illness. For other coronaviruses, it can take anywhere from 2 to 14 days for a person exposed to the virus to have symptoms.

Several U.S. airports are checking the health of travelers from Wuhan. Portland International Airport is not one of the airports where travelers from Wuhan will arrive.

Learn More

  • For current information on Oregon’s response to this outbreak, visit the Oregon Health Authority website.
  • For current information on the national response to this outbreak, go to the CDC website.
  • Still have a question about this virus? Ask our health experts through this online form.

General guidance

If you plan to travel to an affected area

The CDC has issued travel advisories related to novel coronavirus. The situation is changing quickly, and CDC’s travel advisories may continue to change as new information is available. Travelers should check CDC’s travel information for their destination prior to travel.

If you feel well but recently visited an affected area or had contact with a sick person from an affected area

Watch for symptoms of fever, cough and trouble breathing within 14 days of visiting the region, or within 14 days of contact with a sick person. People with symptoms should call their healthcare provider to decide if they need to be seen. If so, they can create a plan to enter a clinic in a way that avoids being around others. 

If you get a fever, cough or difficulty breathing within 2 weeks of visiting an affected area or having close contact with a sick person from an affected area:

Call your healthcare provider ahead of time to decide if you need to be seen. If you do, create an entry plan that avoids being around others. Healthcare providers will ask you to put on a mask and will protect themselves with gowns, gloves, eye shields, and masks. 

If you do not have a healthcare provider and think you may be sick with this virus, call your local health department.

Community Guidance

Where should I look for more information?

For the most current information about this outbreak, go to the CDC website. 

The Oregon Health Authority will provide Oregon specific information on their website. If you are sick, contact your healthcare provider. Call ahead to talk about your symptoms, travel and risk of coronavirus on the phone before going into a health center.

Can I prevent myself from getting sick?

There have been no illnesses with this virus in Oregon. If it does arrive in Oregon, you can still protect yourself using simple measures like regularly washing your hands and avoiding contact with sick people or animals. These measures help protect against other infections as well.

What should I do if I have symptoms?

Call your healthcare provider ahead of time to decide if you are sick enough that you need to be seen. If so, and you might have a contagious illness, you will need an entry plan to avoid exposing other people to those germs. Your healthcare provider can help you create a good plan. Be sure to let your healthcare provider know about your recent travel.

If you need urgent medical attention, call 9-1-1. Tell the operator if you have recently traveled to an affected area or had recent contact with someone who might be sick with the virus.

What will happen to me if I am sick? 

If a healthcare provider thinks you might have the virus, they might first decide if you are healthy enough to stay home or if you need to go to a clinic or hospital. They might also work with local public health to arrange for testing for the virus. Testing will most likely involve a nose swab, a routine blood sample, coughing up mucus, or giving a urine or stool sample.

If you are seen in a clinic or hospital, your healthcare providers might ask you to put on a mask and make sure you are not around other people. Care providers may show you to a private room and put on gowns, gloves, eye protection, and special masks. 

There is no specific treatment for the virus. So far, many people confirmed to have the virus have recovered.

If you are tested for the virus, staff from your local health department will call you to ask about the details of recent travel and people you have been around. Along with your care providers, public health staff will give you information about how to keep from spreading the virus to your family and friends.