Montana Officials Not 'Overly Worried' About Wuhan Flu

Jan 21, 2020

A Washington state resident has been diagnosed with a new virus that has infected hundreds and killed six in China. Montana health officials are monitoring the situation, but say they’re not ‘overly-worried’.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports a Seattle man is the nation’s first confirmed case of Wuhan coronavirus.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some of which cause the common cold. Others can evolve into more serious illnesses including SARS, although the new variant does not appear to be nearly as deadly.

Washington state health officials say the Seattle patient is hospitalized, isolated and in good condition.

Montana health department epidemiologist Stacey Anderson urges Montanans to keep this development in perspective.

“I think we want to put that in context with something like influenza. Right now, we’ve had more cases of influenza and death in the United States alone than we’ve had in this (entire Wuhan coronavirus) outbreak.”

The CDC estimates that so far this flu season nationally there have been at least 13 million illnesses, 120-thousand hospitalizations and over 6,500 flu-related fatalities.

Epidemiologist Stacey Anderson says that as of January 11 Montana officials have reported over 1,600 flu cases and one flu-related fatality this season.

Influenza B is the predominant strain this year. While that’s not an exact match for this year’s flu shot, Anderson says that’s still the best front-line defense against contracting the virus

“Remember that it protects against three or four strains of flu depending upon which shot you get. Even if you’ve, unfortunately already had influenza this year, the flu shot will protect you against the other strains that are circulating,” Stacy said.

Anderson also encourages people to wash frequently, clean and sanitize work areas when possible, stay home when you’re sick and please don’t cough and sneeze on others.

Copyright 2020 Montana Public Radio. To see more, visit Montana Public Radio.