Local doctor explains how medical community is working prevent coronavirus outbreak

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — In a week’s time, 17 people have died and hundreds more have gotten sick due to an outbreak of what’s called the coronavirus in Wuhan, China.

A case was reported in Washington state so, now many fear the virus is making it’s way to the Unites States.

Related: Lawmakers question U.S. public health agency about coronavirus threat

FOX13 spoke to a local doctor about the new outbreak and how the medical community is keeping its eyes on it to prevent it from spreading.

“Anytime there’s a new virus that we’re learning about and we really don’t know how dangerous it will become, we have to be vigilant, we have to pay attention and we have to be concerned about it," said Dale Criner, MD, who works as the St. Francis Bartlett Emergency Department Medical Director.

Dr. Criner said the outbreak could spread to the United States. It’s a group of virus that’s usually animal borne.

“Occasionally it’s spread from animal to humans and occasionally it’s human to human, which is what we’re seeing with this virus," Dr. Criner said.

The virus began in Wuhan, China, a city of 11 million people. Now the city is under a partial lock down in an effort to contain the virus.

Although travel restrictions have been placed, medical professionals said there is a recent case of the virus in Washington state and passengers being evaluated at airports in Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, San Francisco and New York.

“The likelihood that we’re going to have a case in the Mid-South is extremely low, however it’s not nonexistent so we have to pay attention to the symptoms. Specially we have to know the travel habits of our patients.”

Common symptoms are similar to any respiratory infection like a runny nose, coughing or a sore throat.

“It could be similar to even the flu, which we’re seeing a lot of in the mid-south. Fever, sore throat, cough and it could develop into pneumonia. Once it develops into pneumonia that’s when we have to be concerned.”