The coronavirus has killed six people so far in the U.S.
According to a local epidemiologist, Dr. Aaron Windelboe, Oklahoma could be hit any day now. And, that's if the Okie state hasn’t been hit already.
Dr. Windelboe said the coronavirus is in fact more deadly than the flu.
“The rate of death from COVID 19 is at least 100 times higher,” Wendelboe said.
The CDC said the virus has killed more than 3,000 people worldwide and a handful already in the U.S.
With 92 cases across the country – California, Washington, and Nebraska reporting the highest numbers and it’s spreading at a rapid rate.
“It’s usually spread by people coughing,” Wendelboe said.
It doesn't help that the symptoms can be quite vague and yet similar to the flu.
“The symptoms of the coronavirus are flu cough and shortness of breath. Whereas and for the influenza are fever cough and sore throat,” Wendelboe said.
Dr. Wendelboe said the key difference to watch out for is shortness of breath, which indicates a more serious illness. However- if your immune system is normal and healthy - your chances of death are quite low.
“There’s maybe a 10% chance that you would have a severe infection and an even smaller case that you would die,” Wendelboe said.
But the focus is on protecting people with a compromised immune system, as well as the elderly, and newborns.
And yet this is all new territory for the public health community, “when viruses jump the species barrier from animals to humans,” Wendelboe said.
Researchers believe it originated in China.
“It’s a brand-new virus, we’ve never seen it. We try to make guesses,” Wendelboe said.
Scientists have tried to compare it to the SARS outbreak back in 2003, claiming it's 70% similar, but unfortunately Wendelboe said there’s been little comparison.
“But we’ve already seen this new virus behaves in very different ways from the SARS virus,” he said.
Dr. Wendelboe said the best things people can do is wash their hands.
He also said when you feel the onset of illness - it is also best to get tested as soon as you can and the key symptom to watch out for is shortness of breath.