UPDATE: A second case of coronavirus was reported in Santa Clara County on Sunday, Feb. 2. Read our latest story here.
A man has tested positive for coronavirus in Santa Clara County, marking the first local case of the disease that has become widespread, the county's Public Health Department announced Friday.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the man, who lives in the county, had coronavirus, which originated in Wuhan City, China and has been found in other countries, including the U.S. The Santa Clara County case is the first reported in the Bay Area and the seventh in the nation.
Coronavirus, better known as "novel coronavirus," is a respiratory illness that has been reportedly linked to a seafood and animal market in Wuhan but has since been passed between people, according to the CDC. Symptoms of coronavirus include fever, cough and shortness of breath that appear two to 14 days after exposure.
Public Health Director Dr. Sara Cody said during a press conference on Friday afternoon that the man arrived from China on Jan. 24 at the Mineta San Jose International Airport and immediately isolated himself at home. He became ill after his return. He had been traveling in China and had been to Wuhan and Shanghai, Cody said.
The man stayed in his home and only left on two occasions to seek medical attention at a local medical clinic and hospital where he received outpatient care. Cody declined to identify what medical facility he went to or what city he lives in. He was never sick enough to require hospitalization, she added.
The man had few contacts with others during his trip back to the U.S., potentially airline employees, medical center staff and household members, Cody said. County health officials are working to identify who he came into contact with and to monitor them while they remain in self-isolation for 14 days. aa
"We're quite lucky in this case that the list of contacts is very short," she said.
So far, there are no cases of human-to-human transmission of the disease in California, she said. One case was recently found to have been transmitted in Illinois between spouses.
"We understand that this news may be concerning, but based on what we know today, the risk to residents of our community remains low. This news is not unexpected. Santa Clara County has the largest population in the Bay Area, and many of our residents travel for both personal and business reasons," Cody said.
"We've been preparing for this possibility for weeks," she said.
When people are required to be in isolation, they can be watched in one of two ways: by a family member or, if there is no one, they can mobilize public resources to support the person, she said.
Cody stressed that there is much still unknown about this strain of coronavirus, hence, it is called "novel." She warned the public to take precautions to stay at home if they are ill and to seek medical care. Everyone should be vaccinated for the flu, which is still circulating and has similar symptoms to the novel coronavirus.
"We know we have 36,000 deaths from influenza in the United States every year," she said. It's far more likely for people to become sickened by the flu, she added.
In January, the Public Health Department activated its Emergency Operations Center to provide regular communications to the public and providers and to handle reports of potential novel coronavirus infection.
The situation is rapidly changing, so the public is encouraged to visit the Public Health Department's website for updated local information at sccphd.org/coronavirus. The CDC has more information about novel coronavirus that can be found here.
Find comprehensive coverage on the Midpeninsula's response to the new coronavirus by the Almanac, Mountain View Voice and Palo Alto Online here.