On Thursday, officials with the World Health Organization declared a global health emergency after a dangerous coronavirus from China spread to more than a dozen other countries, including the U.S.

There have been six cases reported in the U.S., including a Chicago woman who traveled home from Wuhan, China, where the virus appears to have originated. Now her husband is sick, marking the first person-to-person transmission in the U.S.

Officials worldwide have taken broad measures to mitigate the spread of the virus, including an Italian cruise ship holding its 7,000 passengers on board as a precaution.

Coronavirus is a fearsome risk, prompting Alabama health officials to join forces with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to prevent its spread. But the Alabama Department of Public Health has other worrisome matters unfolding at home.

Also on Thursday, ADPH warned of an outbreak of hepatitis A, as cases have been growing across the state for months. As of Jan. 2, there have been 229 cases reported, with two in Houston County.

This coincides with the tightening grip of flu season. This week, two school systems have dismissed classes because of high flu-related absenteeism among students and faculty.

Health officials urge residents to take precautionary measures to prevent the spread of hepatitis A and influenza. There’s no magic bullet, but common sense and diligent hygienic practice go a long way toward fending off infection.

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