Pathology News

Coronavirus Information and Links

By Lidija Fremeau | 28 January

On January 23, three possible cases of coronavirus (2019-nCoV) were identified in Michigan; two in Washtenaw county. As of publishing, no cases of the 2019-nCoV have been confirmed in Michigan. Symptoms of a lower respiratory illness, difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, and fever are suspicious for anyone who has recently travelled to Wuhan, China.

At this time, Michigan is considered to be at a low risk, but hand washing, covering coughs, and other flu-prevention precautions are advised. The coronavirus’ symptoms can begin to appear anywhere from two to 14 days after exposure and can range in severity from mild illness to death. Find more information here: uhs.umich.edu/2019-nCoV

Currently the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) provide the only approved testing for this virus. The CDC has also established screening protocols in five U.S. airports for travelers from Wuhan. You can keep up with the outbreak by following this website: cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov

The spread of the 2019-nCoV is a rapidly changing situation, Paul Lephart, PhD, D(ABMM), Associate Director, Clinical Microbiology Laboratory, suggests not taking anyone’s opinion too seriously (including his own) at this point in terms of how much this might spread. It’s simply too soon to tell. He does theorize, however that, “The most recent example of an outbreak potentially similar to this was the 2009 H1N1 pandemic. When it started the CDC rapidly developed a PCR assay to detect the new strain of Influenza and early suspect cases were funneled through them for confirmation. When it became clear that the CDC could not practically manage the increasing volume of testing requests, it distributed their PCR assay to the state public health labs for them to do the confirmatory testing for their states. Then as the pandemic spread and testing needs exceeded that capacity, the CDC issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) allowing hospital microbiology labs to use the CDC assay for diagnostic purposes.

“As for the 2019-nCoV outbreak, presumably the same CDC directed strategy as was applied to the 2009 H1N1 pandemic will be utilized. We are at the CDC testing phase and I would expect that if we find that it starts spreading in the United States to a greater degree, the CDC would then release their PCR assay to the state labs around the country to accelerate and amplify their testing capability, with an EUA release to clinical labs subsequent to that if deemed necessary.”

 
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