Possible coronavirus patient in isolation in Porter County, Indiana health officials say

PORTER COUNTY, Ind. (WLS) -- Porter County health officials said they have identified a possible case of coronavirus in northwest Indiana.

County health officials said they identified an "individual traveling through Porter County" as potentially infected. A final diagnosis has not been reached, and health officials are waiting on results from laboratory tests by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Health officials all over the world are warning about the spread of a deadly strain of coronavirus. But what exactly is it?

The patient has been placed in isolation out of an abundance of caution, health officials said. That person is currently under active medical supervision.

The news came the same day the DuPage County Health Department said they are keeping an eye on people who may have had contact with the Chicago woman who was diagnosed with the virus.

RELATED: Coronavirus diagnosed in Chicago woman; 2nd case in US

In a statement, health officials said in part, "As part of the public health investigation and response, the staff of the DuPage County Health Department is contacting people who may have been exposed to the Illinois resident who was recently diagnosed" with coronavirus.

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A virus is an organism that carries genetic information, causing infection and sometimes disease.

That Chicago woman remains the only confirmed case in our area, and health officials said she is still in the hospital and doing well.

In the meantime, the impact of the virus has affected travel to and from China.

RELATED: Coronavirus diagnosed in Chicago woman marks 2nd case, 5 total confirmed in US

ABC7 spoke with a man from Highland, Indiana, who was visiting family in China and still can't get back home.

"We have a flight, tickets to get out of China on Feb. 4, there's uncertainty if we can even make it through the airport," Ken Zurek said. "There's uncertainty if, you know, we will get sick or contact the virus on the airplane."

Health officials continue to say the overall threat of the coronavirus in America is low.

There have been 132 deaths from coronavirus and more than 6,000 infections reported in mainland China and abroad, Chinese officials said.

China's latest figures from the previous 24 hours add 26 to the number of deaths, 25 of which were in the Hubei province and its capital, Wuhan. The 5,974 cases on the mainland were a rise of 1,459 from the previous day. Dozens of infections of the new type of coronavirus have been confirmed outside mainland China as well.

The sharp rise in infections recently suggests significant human-to-human spread of the virus, though it could also be explained by expanded monitoring efforts, said Malik Peiris, chair in virology at the University of Hong Kong.

RELATED: US beefs up screening of travelers for new coronavirus from China

Experts worry the new virus may spread more easily than originally thought, or may have mutated into a form that does so. It is from the coronavirus family, which also can cause the common cold as well as more serious illnesses such as SARS and MERS, which both emerged in the past two decades and are thought to have come from animals.

The new virus causes cold- and flu-like symptoms, including cough and fever, and in more severe cases, shortness of breath and pneumonia. It is thought to have spread to people from wild animals sold at a Wuhan market. China on Sunday temporarily banned trade in wild animals and urged people to stop eating meat from them.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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