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Wauwatosa Health Department’s Role Related to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus

Why the flu is more of a public health concern
Post Date:01/30/2020 3:26 PM

One of the most important ways we have to combat the spread of illness like 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is through education from reliable sources.

“It’s understandable that Wauwatosa residents are anxious about this virus,” says Health Officer Laura Conklin. “We want to share information about the virus, how our department responds locally, and what you can do to stay healthy.”

What is the 2019 Novel Coronavirus?

The coronavirus is a kind of common virus that causes an infection in your nose, sinuses, or upper throat. It could resemble a mild upper respiratory illness (like a common cold) to severe pneumonia.

While CDC considers this is a public health issue, “based on current information, the immediate health risk from 2019-nCoV to the general American public is considered low at this time.”

I'm sick. How do I know if it is coronavirus or something else, like the flu?

If you feel sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, and have traveled to China or were in close contact with someone with 2019-nCoV in the 14 days before you began to feel sick, seek medical care. Before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms

Why the flu is more of a public health concern

According to the CDC, the 2019-nCoV has affected more than 7,500 people, causing over 150 deaths so far. To put that number in perspective, according to CDC estimates, the current US flu season has caused between 8,200 and 20,000 deaths between October 2019 and January 2020.

Based on current information, the flu is much more widespread within the U.S. than this virus.

In addition to many doctor offices, pharmacies, and clinics, the Wauwatosa Health Department offers flu shots. Our immunization clinics are available several times a month. To determine your eligibility for vaccines or to schedule an appointment at our evening clinic, please call (414) 479-8936.

2019 Novel Coronavirus and Wisconsin

As of February 5, 2020, there is one confirmed case of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus in Wisconsin. The person recently traveled to Beijing, China. They are receiving treatment in Madison, WI right now. Two individuals have test results pending with the CDC, and seven tested negative. You can view the latest case counts on the WI Department of Public Health website.

Wauwatosa’s role in public health

The Wauwatosa Health Department follows up on suspected and confirmed cases of 2019-nCoV (among other diseases).

“The risk to Wauwatosa residents is low at this time.  There have been no confirmed cases of infection in our area.  If one is confirmed, we would follow up with the patient, in cooperation with the CDC and Wisconsin state health department, to mitigate exposure risk to the rest of Wauwatosa.”

In the event of a confirmed case of 2019-nCoV, the Wauwatosa Health Department would work closely with the patient as well as the state health department and CDC to limit the spread of the virus.

Will I know if someone tested positive or is under investigation for 2019-nCoV in Wauwatosa?

Due to HIPAA protections, the Wauwatosa Health Department will never disclose whether an individual is suspected or confirmed of 2019-nCoV or any of the other reportable communicable diseases. It is during these very situations, when HIPAA privacy protections for all individuals affected are the most important.

What should I do now to protect my family?

  • Get your flu shot to protect against flu, which can produce symptoms similar to coronavirus.
  • Wash your hands with liquid soap and water.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, sleeve, or arm.
  • Stay home if you are sick with any respiratory symptoms, such as fever, cough, shortness of breath, and are feeling tired.
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