The breaking news this week is a man in Washington State is infected with the Wuhan coronavirus. This is the first confirmed case in the United States of the respiratory infection. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that it has killed at least six people and has sickened hundreds more in Asia. 

Although this is worrisome, public health officials do not want to cause a widespread panic. Officials are highly optimistic that their response has improved since the 2003 outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). SARS is another coronavirus-caused respiratory illness that sickened 8,098 and killed 774 people.

“We are much further ahead in the response to this novel coronavirus than we were to SARS,” said Nate Smith, president of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials and Secretary of Health for Arkansas Department of Health.

Due to the infection now being carried into the US, Federal Officials have begun screenings in major airports and examining passengers from Wuhan, China for signs of illnesses. The current list of airports to screen or begin screening soon are New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Atlanta, and Chicago.

coronavirus, usatoday

SOURCE: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention GRAPHIC: Janet Loehrke/USA TODAY

As a healthcare professional, it is important to keep an eye on how this infection progresses and what to keep an eye out for. “There is new information hour by hour, day by day, that we are tracking and following closely,” said Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the C.D.C.’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

For coders specifically, it is important to keep the following 2020 ICD-10-CM diagnosis code in mind as we start learning more about coronavirus and its effect in the United States:

B97.29 coronavirus as cause of disease classified elsewhere

The World Health Organization (WHO) met on Wednesday, January 22, 2020 to decide if the outbreak is an international public health emergency. Information about the new virus is still being uncovered and it is not clear whether or how many Americans are at risk.

Should coronavirus become more of a risk here in the United States, refer back to MMI’s Blog to keep you informed with the latest updates.

For more information on 2020 ICD-10 Codes, enroll in: 2020 ICD-10 Updates On Demand Webinar