Local expert from University of the Sciences weighs in on coronavirus risk

Overall, local experts say, at this point, there's no cause for alarm, but there are still a lot of questions about this new virus strain.

Zachary Klase, Ph.D. is associate professor of virology at University of the Sciences. He says while coronaviruses are not new, this strain sparking an outbreak in China is and the concern is about what we don't know.

We now know it can spread from person to person, but we don't how quickly. Coronaviruses are spread through droplets by coughing or sneezing.

This strain causes a range of symptoms from mild like a cold, to severe such as pneumonia and difficulty breathing.

In Asia, 17 people have died and more than five-hundred people have been infected.

The first patient in the United States is now being treated in isolation at a hospital near Seattle. He was visiting Wuhan, China where the outbreak started.

Transportation there is on lock down. Meanwhile, travelers here from China are being screened at 5 US airports. One said "They just had a little sign, if you are coming from Wuhan, let us know, if you have a fever, let us know."

And while scientists continue to investigate, one theory is the virus was spread through snakes sold at markets.

Klase says "At this point it's just a theory, now have to see if they can find the virus in the snakes and go from there."

Still if that pans out, it can help pinpoint prevention.

For now, in our area, the advice is simple.

"Almost the same thing our doctor is going to tell you about cold and flu, cover your mouth when you cough and sneeze, stay away from people who are sick, wash your hands and don't touch your face," said Klase.

Tests are also underway to determine if a student at Texas A & M University may have been exposed while traveling in Wuhan.

Six students in Wisconsin are also being evaluated for possible cases of the new virus strain.

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