A deadly coronavirus outbreak spreading across the world. There have been dozens of confirmed deaths in China and more than 900 reported cases of the virus across the world.
The numbers are growing daily. So far, 2 cases have been confirmed in the United States. Both patients had recently traveled to Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the outbreak.
Locally, no cases have been reported. Local doctors say the disease doesn't pose a problem in South Alabama right now, but residents must still be vigilant and informed.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, "Common human coronaviruses, including types 229E, NL63, OC43, and HKU1, usually cause mild to moderate upper-respiratory tract illnesses, like the common cold."
"In the beginning its a fever and some lower respiratory infection symptoms so cough, shortness of breath, but it can start out like an influenza like illness," said Dr. Rendi Murphree, Director of the Bureau for Disease Surveillance and Environmental Services for Mobile County Health Department.
Dr. Murphree said the usual precautions taken for the flu can be used for coronavirus too.
"We don't want to spread viral illnesses among folks in waiting rooms or churches or schools. So stay home if you're sick," she said.
As a port city, the maritime industry is pretty large in our area. Many international cargo vessels make stops locally. Murphree said Mobile County Health Department has briefed maritime partners as well as law enforcement and other first responders.
She said panic and fear should not be the concern, but we should be armed with knowledge.
"I don't think scared is the right word. I think vigilant is the right word. You can take ownership over your hand hygiene, over covering your cough, over seeking treatment when its necessary but staying home when you're ill," Murphree explained.
Murphree also wanted to warn residents locally about a disease that is becoming more common in Alabama, Hepatitis A. Murphree said Alabama schools don't require children to have a Hep A vaccinations.
She said since October 2019, there have been 13 cases in Mobile County and 2 are children.