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January 31, 2020

What to Know About the 2019 Novel Coronavirus

By now you have heard of the outbreak of the coronavirus (2019 Novel Coronavirus or 2019-n-CoV) that started in Wuhan, China and making its way across the globe including six cases (as of 1/30/20) in the United States, involving the states of Washington, Illinois, and California

coronavirus
Photo by CDC on Unsplash

Initially, it was felt the virus was spreading from animal-to-person spread based on reports of those infected early having a link to seafood and animal markets, but it now appears the virus is also spreading person-to-person.

And, in fact, one case of person-to-person contact has occurred in the United States in Chicago. Both the Center for Disease Control (CDC) here in the United States and World Health Organization (WHO) are monitoring the spread of the virus as are other health organizations.

Coronaviruses form a large family of viruses. Some of the viruses causes symptoms in humans. They circulate among animals like cats, bats, and camels. Not often, they can evolve and infect people and spread from there.

What are the Symptoms of the Coronavirus?

Your first question is probably what are the symptoms of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus.

The symptoms are non-specific and are the same symptoms that occur with other viral illnesses involving the respiratory tract and include:

  • Fever.
  • Cough.
  • Shortness of breath.

Symptoms can be mild or severe. The key to suspecting infection with 2019-n-CoV is having contact with anyone who was in China following December 1, 2019.

It is believed that symptoms can occur anywhere from 2 days following exposure to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus and up to 14 days following exposure. In other viral outbreaks over the years person-to-person spread is felt to have occurred via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person cough or sneezes. This is how the more common influenza virus spreads.

The CDC Response

On January 23, 2020, the CDC raised its travel alert from level 2 to level for Wuhan and the entire Hubei Province, China. This means that nonessential travel to those areas should be avoided.

In addition, Chinese officials have closed transport within and out of Wuhan.

The CDC is also conducting entry screening of passengers on direct and connecting flights from Wuhan, China to the following airports: Atlanta (ATL), Chicago (ORD), Los Angeles (LAX), New York (JFK), and San Francisco (SFO).

Teams of CDC investigators have been deployed to those states where cases of 2019-n-CoV have been reported and are monitoring the situation in those locations.

The CDC has developed a real-time Reverse Transciptase-Polymerase Chain Reaction or rRT-PCR test that can diagnose the 2019 nCoV in respiratory and serum samples. The CDC has grown the virus in cell culture so that it can do additional studies on the virus.

The immediate health risk to the general public in the United States is considered low at this time.

What if I Have to Travel to China?

If you do have to China, the CDC has issued the following recommendations:

  • Avoid contact with sick people (easier said then done).
  • Avoid animals (live or dead), animal markets and products from animals.
  • Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use alcohol based hand sanitizer if soap and water not available.
  • Older adults and those with underlying health issues are felt to be at risk for more severe diseases if infected the 2019 nCoV and should weigh the risks before traveling.

Prevention and Treatment

There is no vaccine to prevent the 2019-n-CoV infection. So preventing infection is the focus.

The best prevention is to avoid being exposed to the virus. Right now there are only two cases reported in the United States so additional precautions are necessary at this time, but does recommend the following everyday recommendations to limit the spread of the virus:

  • Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use alcohol based hand sanitizer if soap and water not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact to sick individuals.
  • Stay home if you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touches objects.

Treatment consists of supportive care and treating the symptoms.

 

 

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Dr. Joe Jacko


Dr. Joe is board certified in internal medicine and sports medicine with additional training in hormone replacement therapy and regenerative medicine. He has trained or practiced at leading institutions including the Hughston Clinic, Cooper Clinic, Steadman-Hawkins Clinic of the Carolinas, and Cenegenics. He currently practices in Columbus, Ohio. Read more about Dr. Joe Jacko

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