What is Coronavirus or COVID-19?
COVID-19, originally known as 2019-nCoV, is a strain of a large family of coronaviruses which can be transmitted from animals to humans. It was first identified as the cause of a respiratory illness outbreak in Wuhan, China in November 2019. On March 11, 2020 the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic. (Pandemics affect the whole world, and not just a region).
Coronavirus is a type of virus that can cause the “common cold” although, at least 50% of colds are thought to be caused by Rhinovirus. The 2003 SARs outbreak was a type of coronavirus.
What are common symptoms?
COVID-19 symptoms are similar to the cold or flu, and may take up to 14 days to appear after exposure to the virus. People with fever, cough and difficulty breathing should seek medical attention. Be vigilant as severe cases may lead to pneumonia, kidney failure or death. Those at higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19 include older adults, and people who have serious chronic medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes and lung disease, although young people are not immune from getting it, they are just more likely to recover.
Most people show signs of the illness within 5 days of exposure.
Mild symptoms may include:
- Shortness of Breath
- Sore Throat
- Runny Nose & Sneezing
- Muscle Aches & Pain (including headaches)
- Chills & Fatigue
- Impaired Liver & Kidney Function
How can you prevent the spread of COVID-19?
The World Health Organization (WHO) advises the following prevention methods:
Wash Hands Frequently
Scrub hands with soap for at least 20 seconds, THEN rinse with water. Soap needs time to kill the microbes on your hands and does a better job than alcohol-based hand rubs, like Purell or Germ-X. Hand sanitizer with at least 65-70% alcohol will work well if your hands are not visibly dirty; your hands should remain wet with the alcohol cleaner for at least 10 seconds for it to kill microbes.
Practice Respiratory Hygiene
When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue – discard tissue immediately into a closed bin and clean your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
Maintain Social Distancing
Maintain at least 6 feet distance between yourself and other people, particularly those who are coughing, sneezing and have a fever. If you are too close, you can breathe in the virus.
Avoid Touching Eyes, Nose & Mouth
Hands touch many surfaces which can be contaminated with the virus. If you touch your eyes, nose or mouth with your contaminated hands, you can transfer the virus from the surface to yourself. Wearing glasses reduced how frequently you touch around your eyes.
Self-Isolate if You Think You’ve Been Exposed
If you have fever, cough OR difficulty breathing, you might have COVID-19. If you have traveled recently including places like the Seattle or New York City area, or if you have been in close contact with someone who has respiratory symptoms, please isolate yourself from others. This step is crucial to slow the spread and may mean the difference between keeping most of our grandparents safe or not.
If you have mild respiratory symptoms and have not traveled to hard-hit areas, don’t call your medical provider, and be sure to carefully practice basic respiratory and hand hygiene and stay home until you are recovered. Only contact your provider if you get severe symptoms like shortness of breath or a high fever.
Animal Proximity Precautions
Practice general hygiene measures when visiting farms, live animal markets, animal product markets or contact with wild animals. Ensure regular hand washing with soap and potable water after touching animals and animal products. There is some evidence that pets can get this but that is not very likely.
Avoid eating raw or under-cooked animal products. Handle raw meat, milk or animal organs with care, to avoid cross-contamination with uncooked foods, as per good food safety practices.
What are possible treatments of COVID-19?
Although there are 2 vaccines in testing at the time of writing this, there are none available to administer to people and no specific antiviral medicine to prevent or treat COVID-19. However, those affected should receive care to relieve severe symptoms and people with serious illness should be hospitalized. Most patients recover thanks to supportive care.
There are a few drugs and a plethora of vaccines in various stages of clinical trials and WHO is coordinating efforts to develop vaccines and medicines to prevent and treat COVID-19. Epidemiologists feel that those who recover from this virus will have immunity if they are exposed again, similar to other infectious diseases; sadly, experts think there are upwards of 7 different strains circulating at this time and recovering from one doesn’t necessarily offer any protection from the other.
The most effective ways to protect yourself and others against COVID-19 are to frequently clean your hands, cover your cough with the bend of elbow or tissue, and maintain a distance of at least 3 feet from people who are coughing or sneezing.
To read more about what our office is doing to keep you safe during your next visit, check out our blog. As always, thanks to everyone for their patience and grace in these unprecedented times.
LAST UPDATED: April 21, 2020
For the most up-to-date information on possible vaccines, treatments, FAQs, news and more, please visit the following official health organizations:
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC)
World Health Organization (WHO)