LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says it is waiting on test results to see if three patients in southeast Michigan have coronavirus.
MDHHS said it’s sending specimens from two people in Washtenaw County and one from Macomb County to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for testing. It said results could be back “within several days.”
The Michigan patients have presented mild symptoms and are “self-isolating,” MDHHS said.
Originating in Wuhan, China, the outbreak of coronavirus presents as lower respiratory illness like cough or difficulty breathing and fever. Symptoms can develop in between two and 14 days after exposure.
In the United States, cases have been confirmed in a Washington state man and a Chicago woman, whose diagnosis was announced Friday.
State health officials are in close contact with local health departments, advising them on what to look for and how to handle any suspected cases, according to Lynn Sutfin, spokesperson for the MDHHS.
“These individuals have self-isolated, so they are not out spreading any kind of germs anywhere and their close contacts are being closely monitored,” Sutfin said.
Hospitals like Ascension Borgess in Kalamazoo are taking notice and keeping an eye out for people with symptoms and a recent travel history to Wuhan, China.
Dr. Richard Lovy, who specializes in pulmonary critical care, says Ascension Borgess is reminding staff about procedures to detect these types of viruses, which include putting up signs around the hospital asking people if they have recently traveled to China and describing the symptoms.
“These viruses tend to be more systemic,” Lovy said. “Typically, you don’t get a fever from a common cold. But something like this you get fevers, and importantly, because it has gone systemic, you get muscle aches.”
Doctors say our system of modern air travel can spread viruses more quickly, making it important to be aware.
“I would say even in the last even 20 years that these kinds of viruses spread just a little bit faster, but we are better at catching it,” Lovy said.
Dr. Richard Van Enk, the director of infection prevention and epidemiology at Bronson Healthcare in Kalamazoo, says this strain of the coronavirus is very uncommon.
“As far as we know today, there are less than 1,000 people in the whole country of China that probably have something like this, so it’s a fairly small thing,” Van Enk said.
Most people who become infected can fight the virus off, but there is no vaccine or direct treatment.
“There have been some deaths in China, but they tended to be in people who had lots of other medical conditions that made them susceptible,” Van Enk said.
Spectrum Health says its current mission surrounding coronavirus is education about screening and detection:
“Spectrum Health is following all Center for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines.
“Spectrum Health continues to carefully monitor and evaluate the actions being taken to prevent the spread of Wuhan novel coronavirus. Spectrum Health has the skills, procedures, equipment and expertise to properly respond to infectious disease risks and can protect patients and employees against such diseases.
“Our Wuhan novel coronavirus efforts are focused on education around screening and detection. Travel screening occurs at every patient entry point into our health system and our Epic electronic medical record prompts our teams to ask the appropriate travel questions, notify infection prevention and order necessary lab tests or take precautionary next steps. Spectrum Health installed travel screening steps specific to the Wuhan novel coronavirus prior to the confirmed case in Chicago.”