First U.S. case of potentially deadly Chinese coronavirus confirmed in Washington state

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(Washington Post) – A man in Washington state has been diagnosed with the mysterious virus, the first case confirmed in the United States of an illness that began in China last month and has killed at least six people and sickened hundreds more, according to people familiar with the investigation.

The man is in stable condition. He arrived in the United States last week, before federal health officials began screening travelers from the central Chinese city of Wuhan at Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York’s John F. Kennedy international airports.

The outbreak has grown rapidly in recent days, with authorities in China reporting confirmed cases in multiple cities as hundreds of millions of people in China and elsewhere in Asia are on the move in the run-up to the Lunar New Year, the biggest migration event in the world. The World Health Organization is meeting Wednesday to decide whether to declare the outbreak an international public health emergency.

The CDC is expected to announce details about the U.S. case in a 2 p.m. news conference. Neither his identity, nor his travel route have been publicly released.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses ranging from the common cold to much more serious diseases, which can infect both humans and animals, according to WHO. The strain spreading in China is related to two other coronaviruses that have caused major outbreaks in recent years: Middle East respiratory syndrome, also known as MERS, and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS.

Symptoms of a coronavirus infection include respiratory problems, difficulties breathing, fever and cough, and can lead to severe cases of pneumonia, kidney failure, acute respiratory syndrome (when fluid builds up in the lungs) and death. The elderly, young and those with an already weakened immune system are at a higher risk of developing severe lower-respiratory tract diseases, like bronchitis and pneumonia, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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