The threat of a pandemic can never be underestimated.
Pathogens can spread quickly and devastate a population.
And one deadly virus just made its way to America.
The coronavirus, which can cause an array of illnesses, has led to an outbreak of SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) in China.
In a short amount of time, the virus has swept across China with 300 confirmed cases and nine deaths already.
And now there’s a confirmed case of the coronavirus in the United States.
A man in Seattle who had been traveling in China was diagnosed with the coronavirus.
As evidenced by the outbreak in China, the coronavirus can spread quickly and do considerable damage.
There was a SARS panic in the early aughts, and fears of the deadly illness have rekindled.
In an eight-month span between 2002 and 2003, there were over 8,000 cases of SARS across 37 countries that resulted in 774 deaths (9.6 fatality rate).
Symptoms resemble the flu and can progress to shortness of breath and forms of pneumonia.
More troubling is it’s airborne and can be contracted relatively easily.
Thus far, the coronavirus case in Seattle is isolated, but there’s no official word yet if the pathogen has been completely contained.
However, there are also reports of cases in Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, and South Korea, so people traveling in and out of those countries could be exposed.
In response to the outbreak in China, U.S. airports are screening for passengers who exhibit symptoms, and passengers traveling from Wuhan, China—where the latest strand of coronavirus was first detected—are being diverted to only three airports: JFK, LAX, and SFO.
Scientists have already begun working on a vaccine, but aren’t optimistic about coming up with one relatively quickly.
The threat level for people in the United States remains low at this point, but things can escalate quickly with the coronavirus popping up in multiple countries.
If you’re traveling, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) released guidelines to limit risk:
“Avoid contact with sick people. Avoid animals (alive or dead), animal markets, and products that come from animals (such as uncooked meat). Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available. Older travelers and those with underlying health issues may be at risk for more severe disease and should discuss travel to Wuhan with their healthcare provider.”
If the situation escalates and more cases pop up in the United States, be prepared to hunker down for a while until the illness is under control.
The illness spread rapidly across the massive country of China, so it could do considerable damage in the United States.
Don’t wait until the last minute to gather supplies.
Situations like this are precisely why you should have a healthy stock of potable water and first-aid supplies.