ELLENSBURG, Wash. -- Health officials say a student at Central Washington University is being tested for Wuhan coronavirus.
The Kittitas County Health Department said Thursday that the student became ill and may have been exposed to the virus when they recently traveled internationally. The person is voluntarily in isolation, according to a release.
Test results were expected within two to three days and the student will remain in isolation until the results are available.
The number of cases of the virus, which has killed at least 213 people, shot up to more than 8,100 in mainland China by Thursday evening.
"Do not travel to China due to novel coronavirus first identified in Wuhan, China," the Level 4 alert states, noting that the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a public health emergency of international concern earlier that day.
"Travelers should be prepared for travel restrictions to be put into effect with little or no advance notice. Commercial carriers have reduced or suspended routes to and from China," the alert notes. "Those currently in China should consider departing using commercial means."
While the virus originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December, there are now more than 100 cases in 20 other countries and territories spanning Asia, North America, Europe and the Middle East. India and the Philippines were the latest countries to confirm the virus had reached their shores.
The first U.S. case of Wuhan coronavirus was in Snohomish County. A man in his 30s contracted the virus while traveling in Wuhan. He was treated at Providence Medical Center in Everett, largely by a robot.
He's still the only confirmed coronavirus case in Washington state as of Jan. 30.
Eighteen people have been tested so far in Washington state. Eight were negative, one was positive, and the results are pending for nine patients.
What is a coronavirus
Coronaviruses are a large group of viruses that are common among animals. In rare cases, they are what scientists call zoonotic, meaning they can be transmitted from animals to humans, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The viruses can make people sick, usually with a mild to moderate upper respiratory tract illness, similar to a common cold. Coronavirus symptoms include a runny nose, cough, sore throat, possibly a headache and maybe a fever, which can last for a couple of days.
For those with a weakened immune system, the elderly and the very young, there's a chance the virus could cause a lower, and much more serious, respiratory tract illness like a pneumonia or bronchitis.
There are a handful of human coronaviruses that are known to be deadly.
Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, also known as the MERS virus, was first reported in the Middle East in 2012 and also causes respiratory problems, but those symptoms are much more severe. Three to four out of every 10 patients infected with MERS died, according to the CDC.
Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, also known as SARS, is the other coronavirus that can cause more severe symptoms. First identified in the Guangdong province in southern China, according to the WHO, it causes respiratory problems but can also cause diarrhea, fatigue, shortness of breath, respiratory distress and kidney failure. Depending on the patient's age, the death rate with SARS ranged from 0-50% of the cases, with older people being the most vulnerable.
How it spreads
When it comes to human-to-human transmission of the viruses, often it happens when someone comes into contact with the infected person's secretions.
Depending on how virulent the virus is, a cough, sneeze or handshake could cause exposure. The virus can also be transmitted by touching something an infected person has touched and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes. Caregivers can sometimes be exposed by handling a patient's waste, according to the CDC.
There is no specific treatment. Most of the time, symptoms will go away on their own.
Doctors can relieve symptoms by prescribing a pain or fever medication. The CDC says a room humidifier or a hot shower can help with a sore throat or cough.
Drink plenty of fluids, get rest and sleep as much as possible.
If symptoms feel worse than a standard cold, see your doctor.
How can you can prevent it
You may be able to reduce your risk of infection by avoiding people who are sick. Try to avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Wash your hands often with soap and water and for at least 20 seconds.
If you are sick, stay home and avoid crowds and contact with others.
Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, and disinfect the objects and surfaces you touch.
Coronavirus and pregnancy
In pregnant women, the more severe versions of MERS and SARS coronaviruses can be serious. There are cases in which a woman infected with MERS had a stillbirth, a 2014 study showed.
SARS-associated illnesses were linked to cases of spontaneous abortion, maternal death and critical maternal illness, a 2004 study found.
Coronavirus and cats, dogs and other animals
Pets can catch coronaviruses and the infections can become severe. Sometimes the viruses can lead to deadly diseases. One can cause feline infectious peritonitis in cats and something called a pantropic canine coronavirus can infect cats and dogs, according to a 2011 study.
Cats can catch SARS, but none of the infected cats developed symptoms, according to the study. The feline coronavirus typically is asymptomatic, but can cause mild diarrhea. Feline infectious peritonitis, or FIP, can cause flu-like symptoms for a cat, but can also be more serious for cats and can cause organ failure, but it is not contagious and will not spread from animal to animal or person to person.
These particular dog and cat viruses don't seem to spread to humans.