As you may be aware, Chinese health officials announced that at the beginning of the year a novel (new) coronavirus, 2019-nCoV, was found to be causing respiratory infections in humans who visited a seafood market in Wuhan City, China. Coronaviruses are a common family of viruses and one of the most frequent causes of the common cold but also are rarely associated with more severe illnesses such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).
It is unclear at this point the severity of this illness but, like all respiratory viruses, it can be prevented by commonsense precautions such as frequently washing hands, use of hand sanitizer, and coughing/sneezing into one’s elbow. These viruses typically are transmitted from animal to human, but human to human transmission of this new coronavirus has been documented. It is currently unclear, however, how easily transmission occurs. At this time, there are only five documented cases outside of China, including one case in Washington state. Chinese health authorities, the Center for Disease Control (CDC), and the World Health Organization (WHO) are all analyzing and responding to this new virus. Chinese officials are implementing control and containment measures in the cities of Wuhan, Ezhou, and Huanggang. The CDC, in conjunction with federal and state health authorities, is currently screening most, and soon all, passenger flights directly and indirectly from Wuhan City, China, for illness upon arrival. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) has directed all healthcare facilities in our state to ask all patients who present with fever and respiratory symptoms about recent travel (in the past 14 days) to Wuhan City, China, and this recommendation has been implemented at Deerfield’s Health and Wellness Center.
Deerfield Academy understands this situation is fluid and news like this can be unsettling. Please be reassured that the Academy is systemically evaluating and closely watching this situation in regards to the well-being of our campus and community, and at this time there is no immediate risk to our students and employees. We will continue to monitor announcements and recommendations from the CDC, WHO, and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, implement their recommendations accordingly, and update the community with any pertinent information as it becomes available.
Bryant “Bear” Benson, MD, FAAP
Director of Medical Services
Deerfield Academy Health and Wellness Center