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Wisconsin Confirms First Case Of 2019 Novel Coronavirus

David McNew
Getty Images
Travelers arrive to LAX wearing medical masks for protection against the novel coronavirus outbreak on Feb. 2, in Los Angeles. Health officials announced on Wednesday that Wisconsin has its first confirmed coronavirus case.

Updated on Friday at 4:55 p.m. CT

Wisconsin health officials reported on Friday that the number of confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in the state remains at one.

Officials say the female Dane County resident, who is infected, is doing well, but remains in isolation at home.

On Thursday, the state said the number of potential cases investigated has gone up to 14. But eight test results have come back negative. Results on the other five Wisconsin individuals who have been tested for the virus may be available by the middle of next week.

To get faster results, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services confirms that the state will be getting diagnostic test kits so they don’t have to ship test samples to the Federal Centers for Disease Control.

On Thursday, the Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency order authorizing test kits to be distributed to 100 qualified labs around the U.S., including UW-Madison lab. But on Friday, Traci DeSalvo, communicable disease epidemiology section chief, said it will take one to two weeks before the testing is available to Wisconsin residents.

Original story Feb. 5, 2020

State and federal health officials have confirmed the first case of 2019 novel coronavirus in Wisconsin. The patient was tested at UW Hospital and Clinics in Madison. The patient, an adult and Dane County resident, was exposed to known cases while in China.

The patient recently came into UW Hospital to be evaluated for symptoms, according to state officials.  Symptoms of the coronavirus include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. Those may appear anywhere from two to 14 days after someone is exposed to the virus. Patients can develop a mild illness like a common cold, or severe pneumonia requiring hospitalization.  

But the person who tested positive in Madison is isolated at home. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) says the individual is doing well. State Health Officer Jeanne Ayers won't say if the patient came into contact with others at the UW-Madison or elsewhere. 

"We are not specifically giving out that level of type of information. But what I can assure is that all potential contacts and close contacts of this individual have been informed and are being followed up. If there were any risk we would anticipate from any other exposure, we would reach out to that university, that dorm, or that employer or whatever the potential exposure might be," Ayers said. 

She says the state is working with local health departments, the federal Centers for Disease Control and other health care partners.

"We want to assure you the risk is very low, and if there was a reason to be concerned, you would hear from us," Ayers emphasized.

DHS Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ryan Westergaard says people who are exposed to corona virus patients are not considered contagious to the general public.

"We monitor their symptoms. If they're a high risk like a household contact, they'll ask to be quarantined, again using an abundance of caution. But this is why we say the risk to the general population is low,” Westergaard said.

Overall, the state says 10 people have been tested for the coronavirus in Wisconsin. Seven results have come back negative. The other two cases are still pending.

The Associated Press reports that as of Wednesday afternoon, Wisconsin is the 12th confirmed case of coronavirus in the U.S. While there have been no deaths reported here, nearly 500 have died in China, where more than 20,000 cases of the disease have been reported.   

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