The news media is covering COVID-19 or coronavirus as much as the 2020 US Presidential campaign and a number of my friends and colleagues have asked me about the disease. Here is a little of what I know about it.
Coronavirus is a respiratory illness that is spread much like influenza. This strain was first identified in China, but has made its way across the world. Italy has quarantined 50,000 people near Milan. New York City discovered its first case of a woman who had recently traveled to Iran.
While there are cases in the United States, coronavirus is not currently spreading rapidly in this country. Experts are not entirely certain about how contagious COVID-19 is compared to other diseases that spread from person to person. For example, measles is very contagious. Organizations are putting out guidance about limiting or cancelling business travel and in larger population instances, are asking people to use technology like Skype or FaceTime to meet.
There are many ways to protect yourself from this disease. Interestingly enough, they are similar to the ways you should protect yourself during flu season. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) if you are feeling sick, stay home and rest. Cover your cough or sneeze and frequently clean and disinfect any objects or surfaces you come in contact with. The best ways one can limit exposure are by:
- Avoiding people who are sick
- Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
- Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- Using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available
There is no vaccine for coronavirus, but the federal government is working with pharmaceutical manufacturers to create one. Vaccine development for COVID-19 is moving at a rapid pace, but it may be a year before we see a working vaccine. There is no specific antiviral treatment for COVID-19. If you are feeling flu like symptoms, you should visit your primary care physician. If you live in West Virginia, it’s probably not COVID-19, but you could have the flu. The quicker you get started on treatment, the better off you’ll be.
For full disclosure, I am not a clinician, much less an infectious disease specialist or an epidemiologist. I recommend everyone use reliable sources, such as the CDC or your primary care physician for further information and to prepare yourself. Much of the information I used for this blog post is from the CDC’s Coronavirus Disease 2019 What you should know site and can be found here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/index.html.