This Pediatrician Explains What We Currently Know about the Novel Coronavirus

The 2019 n-CoV, or CoViD-2019, has been all over the news recently.  Yet, there’s so much about this virus that we don’t know- like how infectious or transmissible it is, the total number of infected people (including asymptomatic patients) and as a result, the mortality rate.

There are currently 60 confirmed cases of n-CoV in U.S & more worldwide (CDC) as of February 29th 2020.

In general, the coronavirus is one of the many viruses responsible for the common cold, but there have been a couple of novel coronavirus outbreaks (SARS and MERS).

The origin of 2019 n-CoV was confirmed to originate from a wild animal and seafood market in Wuhan, China (NEJM).

What’s worrisome is the market is near a main train station which gave the virus access to spread. The government of China has since shut down this market.

But what’s the source of the virus? Not clear. There is research that suggests that the sequence is from a bat, but unknown if there is an intermediate host involved.

Of the initial 41 people infected with the virus, 27 people had exposure to the market, but 14 did not…implying perhaps some degree of human to human transmission.  Many U.S. citizens are on edge as we recently identified the first U.S. case that did not involve travel or exposure to someone who traveled.

Some viruses are highly contagious…think measles, influenza…some are not. We don’t know where 2019 n-CoV falls on that spectrum.

Between the flu & n-CoV, it can be difficult to tell apart since they have similar symptoms: fever, myalgia, & respiratory symptoms. One key factor is epidemiological history to determine if they meet “Patient Under Investigation.

Determining Patient under Investigation:

Fevers and lower respiratory tract illness (cough, difficulty breathing) within 14 days of onset travel to Wuhan, China or close contact w/ someone under investigation for n-CoV


Fevers and lower respiratory tract illness + close contact with confirmed n-CoV patient

While this is no way as serious or contagious as Ebola virus, the Ebola outbreak did prepare us well for an infectious disease threat.

Right now, influenza’s actually much more of a real threat. The flu can (and did just a few years ago) kill over 60,000 Americans!

Historically, the flu can cause very serious epidemics. Think of the Spanish flu in 1918.

Regarding treatment, all we have is supportive care, but no vaccine which sharply contrasts with flu vaccine that can be incredibly beneficial.  The current flu season has been an “unusual” flu season with a higher proportion of children and young adults affected than the older population.  As of today, more than 100 children have died in the U.S. from the flu.

If you are concerned about your child and potential exposure to CoViD-2019, make sure to contact your child’s pediatrician who can evaluate your child and guide further steps and measures.

Dr. Amna Husain is a board-certified pediatrician and lactation consultant, owner of Pure Direct Pediatrics-NJ’s first direct primary care pediatric practice located in Marlboro.  Her practice offers personalized care with an experienced physician, longer visits, same/next day availability, no wait time and even home visits.  To book a complimentary consultation, tour the office, and meet with the physician, please contact Dr. Husain’s office below.

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