Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common throughout the world. These viruses can live in animals, such as camels, cats, and bats, and, at times, evolve and infect people before spreading through human to human contact. Human coronaviruses spread just like the flu or a cold—through the air by coughing or sneezing; through close personal contact, like touching or shaking hands; by touching an object or surface with the viruses on it; and, occasionally, through fecal contamination.


The 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is a new virus that causes respiratory illness in people and can spread from person to person. This virus was first identified during an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China. The virus probably originally emerged from an animal source but now seems to be spreading from person to person. It's important to note that person to person spread can happen on a continuum. Some viruses are highly contagious, while others are less so. At this time, its unclear how easily this virus is spreading between people.


Patients with 2019-nCoV have reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness along with fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Complications of the virus have been pneumonia. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus. Simple everyday preventative steps are avoid close contact with people who are sick, avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands, wash your hands often with soap and water, or use alcohol based hand sanitizers that contains at least 60 PERCENT alcohol.


For more information about this virus, visit the Pennsylvania Department of Health or CDC website.