COVID-19 ("Wuhan Coronavirus") Signs And Prevention: What We Know
The COVID-19 coronavirus - known often as "Wuhan Coronavirus" in media reports - continues to make headlines. The virus outbreak originated in Wuhan, China, but new cases are being identified in a growing number of countries, including 13 cases confirmed in the United States.
But what is the COVID-19 Coronavirus, and what do health experts know about the signs and how to prevent the spread of illness?
What Is A Coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are known to cause respiratory illness in people and animals. Coronaviruses range from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
What Is The "Wuhan Coronavirus?"
The "Wuhan Coronavirus," as this new coronavirus is called in media reports, has been officially named as COVID-19 by the World Health Organization. (Its temporary name was 2019 novel coronavirus or 2019-nCoV.)
How did it get that name?
- COVI - coronavirus
- D - disease
- 19 - the year the virus was discovered
A novel coronavirus, COVID-19 is a new strain of a virus that had not been previously identified in humans. More than 43,000 known cases have been confirmed in more than a dozen countries.
This new coronavirus has been known to spread person-to-person.
Am I At Risk of Getting The COVID-19 Coronavirus?
Only two cases has been confirmed in Illinois or Indiana to date.
"Coronavirus is not really an imminent threat," Dr. Christopher Doehring, vice president of medical affairs at Franciscan Health in central Indiana, recently told WTHR-13, noting that there's a bigger health concern locally. "The flu is here with us now and is wreaking havoc across our communities, filling up hospitals."
"Be vigilant about #coronavirus or any infectious disease that comes from around the world. Keep up with it know what you need to know, but don't over react or certainly go into panic mode by any means."— Franciscan Health (@MyFranciscan) January 31, 2020
- Dr. Christopher Doehring of @MyFranciscan tells @rtv6.#FridayThoughts https://t.co/hJEfRwlmgt
What Are Signs Of Coronaviruses?
Signs and symptoms of illness from the novel coronavirus include fever, cough and difficulty breathing.Early symptoms of exposure to the coronavirus are similar to that of the flu. They include:
- Body aches
- Sore throats
- Nauseau or vomiting
- Runny nose
These symptoms may appear in a person who traveled to Wuhan, China, within the last 14 days or who had been in close contact with a person who has. If you have had close contact with someone who was confirmed to have, or is being evaluated for, a COVID-19 infection and develop a fever or any of the symptoms, the CDC recommends you call your healthcare provider immediately.
Common signs of infection from other coronaviruses can include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection from those viruses can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.
Can Coronaviruses Be Transmitted Between People?
Yes, some coronaviruses, including COVID-19, can be transmitted between people, usually after close contact with an infected patient. As with cold or flu viruses, the COVID-19 coronavirus can be spread through coughing and sneezing, close personal contact and touching surfaces that have the virus on them.
How Can I Protect Myself From Coronaviruses?
The best way to protect yourself from the spread of coronaviruses is by avoiding close contact with people who are sick, washing hands frequently and avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.Additionally, health experts are recommending safe food practices and avoiding animals and uncooked meat if traveling in affected areas.
Are Face Masks Recommended To Protect Myself From The COVID-19 Coronavirus?
The CDC does not currently recommend the use of facemasks among the general public.
How Should I Stay Safe While Traveling?
Older travelers and those with underlying health issues may be at risk for more severe disease and should discuss travel to affected areas with their healthcare provider.
CDC: The best way to protect yourself from the spread of #coronaviruses is by avoiding close contact with people who are sick, washing hands frequently and avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.https://t.co/3xvYPXUHP4 #healthnews— Franciscan Health (@MyFranciscan) January 23, 2020
"Before traveling, always check the CDC website for updates and see a travel medicine doctor," said Kanayo K. Odeluga, MD, MPH, Medical Director of Franciscan WorkingWell Chicago Heights. "An informed traveler is a safe traveler."Additionally, travelers from Wuhan, China, to the United States, and other countries, may be asked questions about their health and travel history upon arrival. Airports including Chicago's O'Hare are beginning to screen passengers, in light of the first confirmed case of the virus in the United States.
If I Am Sick And Think I Was Exposed To The COVID-19 Coronavirus, What Should I Do?
The CDC recommends that for patients who were in China during the last 14 days and if you have a fever, cough, or difficulty breathing to seek medical care immediately. Call your doctor's office ahead of your arrival and let them know of your recent travel and symptoms.
If sick, avoid contact with others and do not travel.
Just as if you had a cold, practice such measures as washing hands often with soap and water and covering your mouth while coughing and sneezing.The CDC also recommends that if you have the novel coronavirus you should:
- Stay home except to receive medical care.
- Separate yourself from other people in your home when possible.
- Wear a facemask when around others.
- Avoid sharing household items.
- Monitor your symptoms - and get medical care quickly if your illness worsens or you have trouble breathing.
If I Think I Was Exposed To The COVID-19 Coronavirus But Am Not Sick, What Should I Do?
The CDC recommends that if you have had close contact with someone who is confirmed to have, or being evaluated for, COVID-19 infection, you should monitor your health beginning when you had close contact with that person and continuing for 14 days after the last contact. Call your health care provider if you develop a fever or any of these symptoms:
- Fever - The CDC recommends checking your temperature twice daily during this period.
- Shortness of breath or problems breathing
- Body ache
- Sore throat
- Nauseau or vomiting
- Runny nose.
As long as you do not have any symptoms, the CDC says you can continue with daily activities including work, school and other activities.
How Can I Prevent Coronaviruses From Spreading In My Home?
If a family member or other person living with you becomes ill from coronavirus infection, the CDC recommends these and other tips to prevent the spread of the virus within your home:
- Follow the directions of your healthcare provider.
- Restrict visitors, including the elderly and persons with heart, lung and kidney conditions, or diabetes
- Wash hands frequently.
- Use facemasks, gowns and gloves as appropriate. Do not reuse these.
- Do not share household items.
- Thoroughly clean surfaces and laundry.
- Continue to monitor your own health.
Is There A Vaccine For The COVID-19 Coronavirus?
"We have a vaccine to prevent the flu, and we don't yet for coronavirus," Dr. Doehring said.
How Is The COVID-19 Coronavirus Diagnosed?
Your healthcare provider may order lab tests to confirm COVID-19 infection or to rule out flu, MERS or other viruses.
Is There A Medication For The COVID-19 Coronavirus?
According to the CDC there is not a specific antiviral treatment for the new coronavirus like there is for the flu. As the coronavirus is caused by a virus and not by bacteria, an antibiotic will not be helpful for treatment.
How Can I Learn More About The Threat of COVID-19 Coronavirus In Indiana?
Please call the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) Epidemiology Resource Center at 317-233-7125 or e-mail email@example.com if you experience symptoms such as fever, cough and shortness of breath and have a recent history of travel to China or contact with someone suspected of having COVID-19.
How Can I Learn More About The Threat Of COVID-19 Coronavirus In Illinois?
The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) in coordination with the Illinois Poison Control Center have launched the Illinois Novel Coronavirus Hotline and email address to answer questions Local Health Departments, clinicians, and the general public may have regarding the 2019 novel Coronavirus. See the IDPH FAQs.
Illinoisans can dial 1-800-889-3931 24 hours a day, seven days a week or email DPH.SICK@ILLINOIS.GOV to get their questions answered.