Purdue scientist says coronavirus research currently a 'non-stop' effort

Purdue University. (Photo: WTHR).

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WTHR) - A city of 11 million people is under quarantine.

Wuhan, China is at the center of that mysterious and growing viral outbreak of coronavirus.

It has killed at least 17 people in China and sickened hundreds more.

Officials are banning travel into and out of Wuhan in hopes of containing the spread of this new virus.

The World Health Organization is holding off on declaring a global health emergency but has extended an emergency meeting into a second day.

So far, the virus has been detected or is suspected in 11 countries around the world, including one case in the U.S. That person is in quarantine and in good condition.

With the latest virus spreading fast, Purdue University Professor Dr. Andrew Mesecar says what concerns him is that healthy people are being infected — not just people with an already-compromised immune system.

That's why scientists all over the world, including at Purdue, are working around the clock to study the virus to figure out exactly how it spreads.

Mesecar says scientists have figured out that it closely resembles the sars virus, which hit 17 years ago and killed 800 people. It also made more than 8,000 sick in two dozen countries.

Purdue researchers are looking at the drugs they began working on back then to see how they might work in fighting this latest virus.

Mesecar says they're learning as much as they can, as fast as they can.

"I'm going to go home tonight and I'm going to sleep well because I know that we are screening in the airports around the United States," Mesecar said. "I know that there are scientists that are going to be working overtime. They usually work pretty gosh darn hard as it is but non-stop to move our research programs forward."

Mesecar wouldn't predict if we'll see more cases in the United States beyond the one already in Seattle.