UW-Platteville Students Monitored For Possible Coronavirus

Students Traveled From Part Of China Where Outbreak Originated

A blue sign reading "University of Wisconsin-Platteville" stands on the schools' campus.
A sign on UW-Platteville’s campus. Miranda Suarez/WPR

Six University of Wisconsin-Platteville students who traveled from China are being monitored for possible coronavirus infection, which has killed more than a dozen people, sickened hundreds and prompted precautionary measures at airports around the world.

The exchange students, two of whom are from Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, were screened at O’Hare International Airport and show no signs of the illness, but their temperatures are being taken regularly as a precautionary measure, according to Paul Erickson, director of communications at UW-Platteville.

The students live together in a residence hall but are not under any quarantine or isolation, Erickson said.

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On the UW-Madison campus, University Health Services is working with state and federal health officials to prepare for any potential outbreak of coronavirus. So far the Wisconsin Department of Health Services has not reported any cases of coronavirus. Meanwhile, university health officials are keeping their eyes on the seasonal flu.

“Influenza remains the most serious public health concern for members of the UW-Madison community. We encourage everyone to wash their hands frequently and cough/sneeze into the elbow rather than the hands to reduce the spread of illness,” said University Health Services spokesperson Marlena Holden.

In Milwaukee, public health officials stressed that risk of Americans becoming seriously ill from the new coronavirus is low at this time. The City of Milwaukee Health Department noted the situation is evolving and officials will continue to update the public as circumstances warrant.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced the first U.S. case of Wuhan coronavirus, formally known as 2019-nCoV, on Jan. 21. That case was detected in Washington.

Five U.S. airports are now screening passengers who have traveled to Wuhan — Chicago O-Hare International Airport, Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta, John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, Los Angeles International Airport and San Francisco International Airport are checking passengers for symptoms such as fever, cough and trouble breathing.

This week scientists learned the virus could be passed from person to person but are still investigating how the disease is transmitted and how lethal it is. So far 17 people have died and more than 570 have been sickened, according to health officials.

The CDC said people are at risk if they’ve been to Wuhan or come in close contact with someone who has a confirmed case of coronavirus. Some strains are potentially fatal, while others are more like the common cold.

Treatment for the more severe coronaviruses typically consists of rest, quarantine and/or hospitalization. There are no approved vaccines at this time.