Central Floridians should be more concerned with flu, common cold than coronavirus, professor says

Video: Central Floridians should be more concerned with flu, common cold than coronavirus, professor says

DELAND, Fla. — A local biologist and professor is keeping tabs on the spread of the coronavirus as the number of cases and deaths continue to grow. But he said that as of now, Central Floridians should be more concerned about catching the common cold or the flu.

“The best approach here in the United States is to remain aware, to educate yourself, but there's not really major concern at this point,” said Dr. Sean Beckmann, an assistant biology professor at Stetson University in DeLand.

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Beckmann said that's because most of the confirmed cases are near the center of the outbreak in central China, with only a handful in the U.S. and none in Florida.

“For human-to-human transmission to occur, there's got to be transmission of bodily fluid,” Beckmann said. “Someone's gotta sneeze on you, cough on you, and that liquid has to get into your eye, into your nose, into your mouth.”

Beckmann said the virus is a respiratory infection similar to the common cold.

He said he believes the virus may trace back to a bat that somehow got to people, possibly through a seafood or animal market, but that that is something investigators still need to figure out.

“We need to identify where it came from, for sure. We need to identify how to treat it effectively,” Beckmann said.

Local hospital officials said they're also monitoring the situation.

AdventHealth plans to post signs asking patients to disclose whether they have recently traveled to the area of China where the outbreak started.

But Beckmann said for now, Central Floridians should be more concerned about catching the flu or the common cold than the coronavirus.

“At this point in time, the flu, the common cold and your seasonal allergies are much bigger concerns than this coronavirus in China,” he said.