The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is closely monitoring an outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a novel (new) coronavirus (named “2019-nCoV”) that was first detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China and which continues to expand. According to information on the CDC website, Chinese health officials have reported tens of thousands of infections with 2019-nCoV in China, with the virus reportedly spreading from person-to-person in parts of that country. Infections with 2019-nCoV, most of them associated with travel from Wuhan, also are being reported in a growing number of international locations including the United States. Some person-to-person spread of this virus outside China has been detected.
The United States reported the first confirmed instance of person-to-person spread with this virus on January 30, 2020.
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can infect people and then spread between people such as with MERS, SARS, and now with 2019-nCoV.
Several research groups in the Laboratory of Virology at Rocky Mountain Laboratories have begun studies of the 2019 novel coronavirus. Some projects already are under way, others will begin shortly. RML scientists have studied a related virus, Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus, since it emerged in 2012 in Saudi Arabia, so they have expertise in this type of research.
Their research projects will involve things like:
• Learning how the virus binds to cells so they can develop therapies to prevent the binding and stop infection.
• Learning how stable the virus is in the environment.
• Establishing an animal model to study the virus.
• Testing the safety and effectiveness of vaccines and treatments.
If you have general questions about the virus, the CDC has a Novel Coronavirus web page with the latest information: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/index.html. These web pages include more information about symptoms, prevention, and treatment; guidance for healthcare professionals; travel; and a situation summary with the latest news. An overview of NIH coronavirus research is available at: https://www.niaid.nih.gov/diseases-conditions/coronaviruses