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For the third time this century, a new strain of coronavirus, a family of pathogens that cause respiratory illness in birds and mammals, has jumped species and infected humans. Having broken out in the city of Wuhan, the virus, likely spread through coughing and sneezing, has now sickened more than 4,500 people and killed at least 106 in China.
On Monday, The New York Times reported that five people in the United States had tested positive for the illness. But how worried should you really be? Here’s what public health experts and others are saying.
‘A cause for caution — not for alarm’
The outbreak is believed to have started at a wholesale market in Wuhan, where vendors legally sold live animals, including wildlife, in close quarters, sparking debate about China’s game trade. “This is where you get new and emerging diseases that the human population has never seen before,” said Kevin J. Olival, a biologist and vice president of research with EcoHealth Alliance, a nonprofit research organization.
In response to the contagion, China — still carrying the…
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