How COVID-19 spreads

How does the virus spread?

This virus probably originally emerged from an animal source, but now is able to spread from person-to-person. Coronaviruses generally spread by respiratory droplets generated when a sick person coughs or sneezes. Coronaviruses may survive on surfaces that have been contaminated with respiratory secretions. (For example, a sick person coughs on their hand and then touches a doorknob.) Thus, contaminated surfaces may be another, less common, route of transmission. It should be noted that common disinfectants kill coronaviruses on surfaces.

Can the virus spread before symptoms present? 

There is some concern that COVID-19 can be spread prior to the development of symptoms, but this has not been confirmed. There have been confirmed cases of COVID-19 in people without symptoms (asymptomatic). Other viruses, like influenza, can sometimes be transmitted for 24 to 48 hours before symptoms develop. However, in general, symptomatic persons are a much more important source of transmission. 

Is this virus especially dangerous for pregnant mothers or their unborn babies?

This does not appear to be particularly dangerous for pregnant women or their developing children.

Can I get COVID-19 from my dog?

Dogs have been found to carry the virus, but it is unclear on their impact regarding transmission to humans. Avoid close contact with ill dogs and wash your hands after petting or playing with your dog. 

Can COVID-19 be spread through water?

No, it is not known to spread through water sources.

Can I get COVID-19 from packages or products shipped from China?

In general, because of poor survivability of coronaviruses on surfaces, there is a very low risk of spread from products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient temperatures. Currently, there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with imported goods, and there have not been any cases of COVID-19 in the United States associated with imported goods.  

What about animals or animal products imported from China?

The CDC does not have any evidence to suggest that animals or animal products imported from China pose a risk for spreading COVID-19 in the United States. This is an evolving situation; information will be updated as it becomes available.