WHAT IS CORONAVIRUS?
Coronavirus 2019-nCoV, more commonly referred to in the media as the coronavirus or COVID-19, is a respiratory virus first identified in Wuhan, China suspected to have originated in a large animal and seafood market. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some of which affect humans while others affect animals only. Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) is a different type of Coronavirus but is NOT the same as what is now being generally labeled “the Coronavirus”.
HOW DOES THE CORONAVIRUS SPREAD?
While we are still learning more about the new COVID-19 virus, scientists believe the virus will act similarly to other more well-known Coronaviruses such as MERS or SARS. It is believed that the coronavirus spreads from person-to-person when in close proximity to each other. The standard accepted distance is about six feet. The virus is spread much like the flu by an infected person coughing or sneezing. This introduces tiny respiratory droplets that can enter a non-infected person’s mouth, nose, or be inhaled into the lungs. As with other respiratory viruses, individuals are typically considered to be most contagious when they are demonstrating the greatest level of symptoms.
HOW DOES THE CORONAVIRUS AFFECT SURFACES?
Contaminated droplets settle onto surfaces that people may touch thereby contaminating their hands. If they touch their eyes, mouth, or nose before properly disinfecting their hands they may then become infected.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF THE CORONAVIRUS?
While the intensity of symptoms varies, with some individuals showing little or no symptoms and others demonstrating severe illness and even dying, the three main symptoms include;
• Fever (Above 101º F)
• Shortness of breath
These symptoms may begin showing within two days of being exposed but may take as long as 14 days.
HOW CAN I HELP REDUCE THE RISK OF CONTAMINATION?
Knowledge is key to reducing the risk of infection from 2019-nCoV. The information included here is valuable, however, developments are made constantly so it is good to monitor official health channels such as the CDC.
Practicing good infection prevention practices, such as frequent hand washing, is also important especially in public buildings. These practices also include; properly cleaning and disinfecting surfaces, respiratory hygiene, and avoiding close contact with individuals. Most practices discussed in the media do NOT protect the individual using the practices, but rather protect others in the instance the person is infected. For example, using a mask does prevent airborne droplets from spreading if the individual wearing the mask coughs or sneezes, however, the coronavirus is small enough to enter through the mask to the wearer. Properly cleaning and disinfecting surfaces may be one of the only truly preventative measures available.
Seek medical attention immediately. Call your doctor or local hospital and explain your situation to them. With it being a prime season for the Flu and respiratory viruses, it is important to cooperate with medical professionals to reach a proper diagnosis. They may ask you some questions to help such as have you or anyone you have been in contact with recently traveled to China, answer these questions honestly.