CARLSBAD — The latest global epidemic is in San Diego County, but the city of Carlsbad is keeping a close eye on the deadly coronavirus.
The outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December and has spread to numerous countries, according to the Centers for Disease Control. This strand is a new virus, according to the CDC, and at least one possible case in San Diego County has been reported.
To date, more than 24,000 cases have been reported in China with nearly 500 deaths, according to City News Service.
In Carlsbad, city officials are reminding residents simple steps such as proper handwashing remain the best way to stay healthy. The recommendations include washing for at least 20 seconds with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer; avoiding touching the eyes, nose and mouth; avoiding close contact with those who are sick; stay home if sick; covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue and throwing it away; and cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects.
The county of San Diego’s Health and Human Services Agency is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to monitor and respond to suspected cases in the San Diego region, according to the city. The one suspected case is awaiting test results.
“We still don’t understand why only certain coronaviruses are able to infect people,” the CDC’s website reads. “Rarely, these coronaviruses can evolve and infect humans and then spread between humans. Recent examples of this include SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV.”
The county’s public health official said the risk of infection for the general public is minimal for those who have not traveled to an area where the virus has been detected or had close contact with a patient who tested positive for this type of coronavirus, according to city officials.
Also, city staff are participating in regular briefings with public health officials and have taken initial steps to ensure the city is prepared should additional steps be needed. The city’s emergency services staff maintains detailed plans for how the city would respond to a wide variety of potential hazards, including public health emergencies, which are led by Emergency Preparedness Manager David Harrison.
The symptoms infected patients report include mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, cough and shortness of breath or difficulty breathing. At this time, the CDC estimates symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure.
County health officials recommend that those who have traveled to one of the known outbreak areas and start to develop symptoms contact their medical providers before showing up at their doctor’s offices. That way, doctors’ offices can take the necessary precautions to avoid infecting others prior to potential patients visit.
Steve Puterski covers Carlsbad and Vista. For tips or story ideas, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @StevePuterski.