The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the first case of human-to-human coronavirus transmission in the U.S. on Thursday, in a patient in Illinois.
Gary Whittaker, virology expert at the Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine, researches how coronaviruses are a major cause of disease in many animal species and have become increasingly important as human pathogens. He says that while the virus is spreading rapidly, good public health measures will limit further contagion.
“This was to be expected based on what is happening elsewhere in the world. Things are still evolving quite rapidly, but the risk to the general population remains low, and there is no reason to panic.
“As a community we need to be vigilant regarding any respiratory illnesses both in ourselves and others. The not-so-good news is that the virus is more transmissible than originally thought. However, the good news is that the virus appears to be less deadly than feared, diagnostic tests are available, and there are reasons to believe that good public health measures will help the situation. It’s just that the scale of these measures is quite unprecedented.”