There are no known cases of COVID-19 illness in Montana.

On Feb. 14, 2020, the Gallatin City-County Health Department issued a press release that a person who had recently traveled to China and has been hospitalized at Bozeman Health Deaconess Hospital for an illness since Feb 10, 2020, tested negative for SARS-CoV-2 (the virus which causes COVID-19).

 

What are coronaviruses and why are they in the news?

Coronaviruses are a large family of 50+ distinct viruses which are found worldwide and infect both mammals and birds. Four coronaviruses have been circulating amongst humans for years and are believed to cause 20-40% of common cold infections per year. Two other coronaviruses have caused much more serious human illness since 2002: SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV.

In December 2019, a cluster of human respiratory illnesses in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, prompted a public health investigation which identified a new coronavirus. The virus was initially named 2019-nCoV and subsequently renamed SARS-CoV-2 (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2). The disease caused by SARS-CoV-2 has been named COVID-19 (coronavIrus disease 2019). Infectious symptoms range from a short respiratory illness with self-limited cough and low-grade fevers, to severe inflammation of the lungs with fluid infiltration, sepsis, and ultimately respiratory and cardiac arrest. Severe cases have primarily been noted in patients over 65 years of age who also have significant underlying chronic illnesses (diabetes, hypertension, cardiac disease, liver disease, etc.). Since December, the number of COVID-19 cases has increased dramatically with spread throughout China and to many countries including the United States.

There is no vaccine nor any known antiviral treatment for COVID-19, so treatment is primarily supportive care. Mild cases may be treated at home, but severe illness requires hospitalization.

 

How can I find out more about the current coronavirus outbreak?

For updates on what is known about the virus, illness, and public health issues, please follow these links to the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO). Updates specific to Montana can be found at the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS).

The CDC recommends avoiding nonessential travel to China and the US State Department has issued a recommendation to not travel to China. Travel advice is being updated nearly daily, so check these sites frequently if you are planning travel and check with our MSU International Travel Clinic.

 

What is MSU doing about this coronavirus outbreak?

  • Encouraging students to follow usual precautions for respiratory infections:
    • Cover your mouth when coughing, ideally into your elbow and not into your hands
    • Frequent hand hygiene with soap and water or sanitizing gels
    • Avoid touching your face, especially eyes, nose, and mouth, with unwashed hands
    • Stay home when you are sick, but come to our clinic if you feel it is becoming serious
    • Avoid close contact with people who are ill
    • We are still in the midst of influenza season, so please get your flu shot
    • IMPORTANT:  If you develop fever; cough and/or difficulty breathing; and in the past 14 days you have visited China or been in close contact with someone who traveled to China, please call us immediately at (406) 994-2311 to discuss your illness and plan for how we will see you at our clinic.
  • Upon arrival to our clinic, we follow our usual respiratory illness precautions by having any student with a cough put on a mask immediately.
  • Our front desk staff ask all students who complain of cough or fever whether they have made any international travel in the past 14 days; if so, in addition to immediately placing them in a mask, we move them to an exam room to reduce exposing other students and staff. We then assess them per CDC recommendations.
  • We remain in close contact with Gallatin City-County Health Department public health officials and check the CDC, WHO, and DPHHS websites daily for updates.
  • Our Travel Health provider is in close contact with the MSU Office of International Programs to provide advice and assistance to MSU students, faculty, and staff who have traveled or will be traveling in the future.

revised 02/14/2020