Texas A&M student suspected of being 2nd in U.S. to catch coronavirus

3D illustration of coronavirus, a virus which causes SARS and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome). (Getty/Dr_Microbe)

BRAZOS COUNTY, Texas (KHOU) — A student at Texas A&M may have contracted the 2019 novel coronavirus, the university confirmed Thursday.

The Brazos County Health District is investigating the suspected case of coronavirus in a student who traveled from Wuhan, China, where it originated.

He went to the emergency room Wednesday and is being isolated at home while precautionary testing is done. His symptoms are mild, and he is expected to make a full recovery.

The student traveled over the winter break and returned within the last two weeks.

"Officials have described the immediate health risk to the campus community as low," Texas A&M said in a statement.

If the test comes back positive, experts will begin trying to trace back everyone the young man came in contact with. That would likely include the flight he took from Wuhan and the airport where it landed.

Brazos County includes Bryan and College Station and is about 100 miles northwest of Houston.

Texas health officials say they are monitoring a few other potential cases in the state but none has been confirmed.

The only other known U.S. case is in Washington state where a man in his 30s was diagnosed after returning from a trip to Wuhan.

Three U.S. airports, New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco, are screening passengers on flights from Southeast Asia for the virus. Two more, Atlanta and Chicago, could be added to the list.

The 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) has sickened hundreds of people in Wuhan before spreading to other Asian cities.

The virus can cause flu-like symptoms including fever, cough, headache, shortness of breath and sore throat.

The general public is encouraged to practice general preventive actions:

  • Everyone 6 months and older is encouraged to get a flu shot.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.