Recently a new virus (novel-2019 coronavirus) has made headlines and you may be wondering what you need to know about the coronavirus. This coronavirus has infected hundreds of people in the Chinese city of Wuhan, and sadly some have died.
Now that the CDC has confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the US, we hope to answer some your questions and tell you how to better protect yourself.
What Is the Coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are respiratory viruses that often cause symptoms like your run-of-the-mill cold. Many people experience a coronavirus without knowing they have it—they just assume it’s a cold.
What you need to know about the coronavirus is that it is not the same one as that which caused SARS and MERS.
However, these are the sorts of coronaviruses that make the news because people with compromised immune systems, such as those with chronic illness, the young, and the elderly are at greater risk for mortality or complications.
Why Should I Be Concerned About the New Coronavirus?
While the CDC has yet to confirm any cases in our region, we do live in a highly traveled area, home to three major international airports. This means it’s conceivable that an infected person could travel to our area—although that possibility is low.
However, one confirmed cases now exist, so the novel coronavirus does have a presence in the United States. Passengers at five major American airports will soon be screened for the virus.
If you plan on traveling to regions of China where the new coronavirus is active, here are some precautions that you can take:
- Keep your distance from sick people.
- Avoid uncooked animal products, and do not come into contact with living or dead animals, or meat/animal markets.
- Wash hands frequently for more than 20 seconds and use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth without washing your hands first.
- Consider wearing a mask.
- Make sure your vaccinations are up to date. There is no vaccine for this particular illness.
- Seek medical care immediately if you become sick.
How Does the Coronavirus Spread?
While exact information on when the virus is most transmissible is unclear, we suggest treating it as you would any cold or similar virus.
As with all illnesses that spread this way, frequent hand washing and avoiding touching the face are among the most actionable prevention that you can take. Consider wearing masks when in crowded areas or in the airport.
This means that you should avoid contact with anyone’s nasal or cough secretions. Wash your hands thoroughly after handshakes, touching public surfaces, etc.
What Are the Symptoms of the Coronavirus?
Symptoms of the coronavirus include:
- Difficulty breathing
What Is the Treatment?
Those who do contract the novel coronavirus will receive supportive care for their symptoms, such as one would receive for a similar virus.
What you need to know about the coronavirus is that for those who experience severe symptoms, treatment to support organ function will take place.
What Should I Do if I Become Sick?
At this time, no special precautions should be taken for those who have not traveled to Wuhan, China, or who have not been in contact with someone who has recently traveled there. Treat your illness as you would any other viral upper respiratory infection—with rest and fluids.
If you have recently returned from Wuhan, China, and become sick, seek medical care immediately. However, please contact your doctor or emergency room and explain your travel and symptoms before arriving.
Stay home unless you’re seeking medical care. Take care not to spread your illness to others in your home.
What You Need to Know About the Coronavirus
The discovery of the novel coronavirus is alarming. However, as the situation develops, the best precautions you can take are following good hygiene and avoiding contact with those who have recently traveled to affected areas.
For all your primary care concerns, call (202) 822-6311 or schedule an appointment with Dr. Rashbaum.