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Is it influenza or coronavirus?

Posted at 6:48 PM, Feb 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-17 11:53:33-05

GREAT FALLS — As of Friday, February 14, the federal Centers For Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) says that there have been a total of 15 people in the U.S. who have tested positive for the coronavirus, and no deaths associated with them; 347 people have tested negative; and there are still 81 pending tests.

Since the first person-to-person case was confirmed in the United States about two weeks ago, public concern has grown over the possibility of a national outbreak.

This is partly because there have been so many influenza cases this season and people who have the flu exhibit many of the same symptoms as those with coronavirus.

RELATED: Fake "coronavirus in Montana" article causes concern

But Benefis Health System pediatrician Jean Moore said exposure is the key determining factor in your diagnosis.

“If you know that your child has come in contact with someone who has been to China or with someone that has had the virus or mainly that has traveled to those regions,” Moore said, “That’s the criteria for the CDC right now for testing-that you have these symptoms and you have that contact.”

Moore adds that another major distinguishing factor between influenza and coronavirus is trouble breathing and shortness of breath, which are characterized by those who have coronavirus, but not necessarily the flu.

“Shortness of breath and who you’ve been in contact with are going to really be your criteria for ‘Do I need to worry?’,” Moore said.

It's also important to note that some websites are trying to capitalize on the fear of coronavirus. For example, one recent article on a "fake news" site claimed that eight people in Montana tested positive for coronavirus, when in fact there is absolutely no truth to that. Click here to read more.