Nebraska Medicine experts discuss coronavirus

LINCOLN, Neb (KOLN) - On Tuesday, we heard from Nebraska infectious disease experts about what you need to know about a virus recently found in the United States.

(Source: KOLN).

It’s called Wuhan coronavirus and it can spread just like a contagious cold.

At least nine people in China have died, hundreds more have been infected with Wuhan coronavirus.

Now the first American has tested positive in Seattle.

Here in Nebraska, infectious disease experts say they're on stand-by.

"We do serve as a leader both in our region and in the United States, there is a chance if there was a patient infected in our region, that we could care for them in our unit also,” said infectious diseases expert, Angela Hewlett, MD.

Nebraska Medicine is home to one of the top biocontainment units.

The pneumonia-like illness is spread from person to person from a cough or sneeze.

But experts say right now, the risk is minimal.

"We have seemed to do a much better job of identifying cases and implementing the appropriate public health measures to prevent spread,” said infectious diseases expert, James Lawler, MD.

Health officials are conducting screenings at New York, LA, and San Francisco airports.

"If they were discovered, they would be observed carefully and quarantined. Similarly, they're being given information that if they arrive here and become ill, they should receive medical attention,” said infectious diseases expert, Mark Rupp, MD.

The CDC is adding additional screenings in Atlanta and in Chicago, both of which have direct flights to and from Lincoln.

"Given that just over the last few days, we've seen many more people getting ill and we've seen more spread, the CDC appropriately said let's actually change some practices to make it so we can really reach virtually 100% of the travelers who originate their travel in Wuhan,” said CMSR, Chicago Department of Public Health, Allison Arwady.

Nebraska Medicine infectious disease experts say travelers shouldn't change anything they're doing and should be much more concerned about getting the flu, than the coronavirus.