I’ve seen a lot about coronavirus online lately.
Some of the information posted is flat out fear mongering and false. I’m not going to share those links, but let’s just say that there are some really crazy theories out there.
I’ve also seen some racist issues. Just because someone looks like they’re from China because of typical Asian features does not make them contagious. If they’re in the same city as you, they most likely have the same risks as you. Don’t base fear on looks. Ever.
Some of what is posted is a little funny. Not very funny, but a little. Think Corona and Lime. We need humor to help us through scary times, and potential life threatening disease can be scary. Humor helps. Just keep it in good taste.
Some of the information shared is helpful. That’s what I want to focus on today. Helpful information.
Here’s a helpful tweet from Dr. Jerome Adams:
For those who don’t know, Dr. Jerome Adams is our US Surgeon General. He brings up good points about how to prevent all illnesses, including what we know about coronavirus.
Dr. Mike Varshavski has a fantastic video
I really like this Tweet and video about coronavirus. It is very well done and helpful. Dr. Mike reminds us to be Alert, Not Anxious. Take a moment to watch his video. It’s worth your time.
What do we really need to know?
Since there is so much misinformation on medical topics in general available these days, you need to look at reputable sources.
I am a pediatrician, not an infectious disease expert. I look to the CDC, WHO, and other authorities to guide me when I’m learning and sharing about new things.
Unfortunately even the experts are still learning about this new virus.
I have read the information on the CDC coronavirus pages and summarized them below. For the latest information, see their site directly.
What are coronaviruses?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in many different animals.
Most human cornoavirus infections cause symptoms of the common cold: runny nose, cough, fever, and headache.
Many of us have had coronavirus infections.
The coronavirus making the news was first identified in Wuhan, China. It is thought that this virus had an animal host initially, then spread to humans. There is evidence of human to human spread in China.
How does coronavirus spread?
Some viruses, like measles, are known to be highly contagious. Others are less contagious.
Because so little is known about how the new coronavirus is transmitted, the risk of transmission is not yet known for the novel coronavirus.
Scientists around the world are working on learning about its transmission, prevention, and treatment.
What about the US?
The CDC states that at this time the risk to the general US population is low.
At this time all of those in the US who have tested positive were infected outside the country. No person to person spread has been seen here yet.
There have been people in 36 states who have been tested based on risk factors for coronavirus. So far 5 people in the US have tested positive. These were in Arizona, California, Illinois and Washington state.
There have been no deaths in the US.
What is the treatment for coronavirus?
At this time only supportive measures are available to treat symptoms. There is no antiviral medicine known to help.
Supportive measures include things we would typically do for similar symptoms of cough and colds. See my related blogs at the bottom of the page for treatment options.
At this time there is no vaccine for this coronavirus, but there are things to do to help prevent spread of this and other viruses as recommended by the CDC.
Teach these tips to your kids.
- Wash hands.
- Rub the soap onto all surfaces of your hands and wrists for 20 seconds minimum before rinsing with water.
- Use hand lotion if needed. Dry cracked skin can harbor germs.
- Use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
- Avoid touching your face, especially eyes, nose and mouth unless you clean your hands before and after touching. These are the portals into your body.
- Wash hands before and after eating.
- Avoid going into any public areas when sick, especially within 24 hours of a fever.
- This includes work, school, and running errands.
- What seems like a mild cold to you could lead to significant illness in an infant, elderly person, or immunocompromised person. You never know who you’ll expose.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, throw the tissue in the trash, then clean your hands as above.
- Clean and disinfect objects around you often. This includes toys, door knobs, phones, remote controls, keyboards, countertops, and more.
- Avoid travel to areas with known person to person spread of this coronavirus or contact with people known or suspected to have this virus.
- If you have been in an area with confirmed person to person spread (ie China) see this CDC page.
What if you think you or your child has coronavirus?
First: don’t panic.
Most of the people with suspected coronavirus in the US have tested negative. It is far more likely at this time that influenza or another virus is causing symptoms unless you have been in an area of high risk, such as China.
If you have traveled to China or have been around someone who has suspected or confirmed coronavirus and develop fever, cough, runny nose, or other illness, call your physician.
Do not go to any public building, including a medical clinic, without calling first. Precautions will be taken to prevent exposing others.