Updated: Jul 2, 2020
Unless you've been living under a rock, you have heard people on the news, at work, and in the community talking about the 2019 Novel Coronavirus.
What is it?
Coronaviruses are a group of viruses that can affect animals and people. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are 7 strains of coronaviruses that scientists are aware of that infect humans. Most individuals have been infected with one of the common human coronaviruses at some point in their lives. Common coronaviruses typically cause mild to moderate symptoms such as sneezing, coughing, runny nose, and fever.
There are also other coronaviruses which cause more serious symptoms in humans. Remember hearing about the SARS (Severe acute respiratory syndrome) outbreak in 2003? SARS is a respiratory illness caused by a coronavirus.
In the news, we are currently learning about a strain that has not previously affected humans. This outbreak (2019-nCoV) initiated in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China in December, however the first known U.S. case was identified on January 21st, 2020. As of today (January 26th, 2020), there have been 5 diagnosed cases of 2019-nCoV in the U.S.
How is it spread?
Initially, those affected by this strain (2019-nCoV) had some connection to a seafood and wild animal market. However, more and more patients have had no exposure to such markets, meaning it is being spread person-to-person. At this point in time, we are unsure how easily the virus is spread from one person to another. Other similar respiratory illnesses are spread person-to-person through exposure to the virus through respiratory droplets (i.e. coughing, sneezing).
What are the symptoms of 2019-nCoV?
Unfortunately, the incubation period (the time from exposure to the onset of symptoms in an individual) varies from 1-14 days. Symptoms of the 2019-nCoV are as follows:
How do I protect my family?
Wash. Your. Hands. As I always recommend, wash your hands often. Get in the habit of not touching ANYWHERE on your face unless you have washed your hands. Make it a habit to wash up before every meal and snack as well. Washing your hands with soap and water is the preferred method and an alcohol-based hand sanitizer would be the second best option. I also recommend keeping a hand sanitizer with you, or having one attached to your son or daughter's backpack.
Stay home. Please do not send your child to school or daycare sick, and avoid going to work if you are under the weather.
Avoid sick contacts. Avoid playdates and being around others who are ill and exhibiting respiratory symptoms.
Cover your cough. Teach your children to cough and sneeze into their elbow. The tiny droplets from your sneeze can travel pretty far and quick, infecting others around you.
What is the treatment?
There are no antivirals that are used to treat coronaviruses. Treatment is focused on taking care of the person's symptoms and making them comfortable. For severe cases or those immunocompromised, hospitalization is typically necessary. (As always, seek medical attention for concerning symptoms in order to be evaluated.)
Is there a vaccine?
Unfortunately, there is no known vaccination for 2019-nCoV.
****UPDATE- March 16th, 2020*****
COVID-19 is now a pandemic. As of today, there are 3,487 laboratory confirmed cases in the United States and 68 deaths. Please help flatten the curve and decrease the spread of COVID-19. Visit my most recent post for more updated information.
Until next time,
**If you suspect you or your child have been exposed or infected with 2019-nCoV, please contact your healthcare provider immediately!**
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2019). Coronavirus. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/index.html
World Health Organization. (2019). Coronavirus. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus