The novel coronavirus, temporarily named 2019-nCoV, has killed an American who was living in Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the current outbreak.
The 60 year-old US citizen may have been a woman with underlying health conditions, according to the NY Times, but no more details have been released.
Currently 34,000 people in multiple countries have been affected by the virus. The death toll is currently 724, the majority of whom have been in China.
In the US, 12 cases have been confirmed, comprised by those reported in Washington, Illinois, Massachusetts, Arizona, Wisconsin and California. No deaths have been reported on the mainland.
What is coronavirus?
Coronaviruses come in multiple types and can cause an array of illnesses from the common cold to SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome). The latter two causing severe illness, as SARS killed over 700 people and sickened over 8000 in the 2002-2003 outbreak.
Hence a coronavirus can be unpredictable, mutate to more virulent forms, or cause mild upper respiratory illness.
How is Coronavirus spread?
The virus can be spread from human contact with animals, and human to human contact. Scientists believe the strain of 2019-nCoV may be transmitted by saliva and respiratory secretions but are still investigating its ability to be spread by this “droplet transmission.”
What are the symptoms of the Coronavirus strain 2019-nCoV?
As with most viruses, this strain can cause any of the following symptoms:
- Cough – dry early on and then in later stages may be productive
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
- Difficulty breathing
- Lack of appetite
How long after exposure can one become sick?
The incubation period can range anywhere from 2-14 days.
How does one die from Coronavirus?
If the illness persists or becomes severe, one could potentially suffer from pneumonia, respiratory difficulty and even secondary infections.
How does one tell if they have a mild Coronavirus strain or a deadly one?
The early onset of disease could mimic a cold or flu, hence it may be difficult to tell. However, severe or persistent symptoms could suggest a more aggressive strain of the virus and will warrant immediate evaluation. Medical providers have been urged to ask patients about their travel habits and exposure to others who may have been exposed and to notify local health departments to facilitate testing of those who demonstrate symptoms of the 2019-nCoV strain.
Is there a vaccine for 2019-nCoV?
No, however, we have heard a vaccine for 2019-nCoV is being researched and may be in its early development.
What is the treatment for this strain of Coronavirus?
At this time there is no specific treatment for this strain. However, supportive measures can be instilled such as rest, fluids and maintaining oxygenation in severe cases.
How can we prevent a 2019-nCoV infection?
Experts urge avoiding sick contacts and washing hands thoroughly. Cover your nose and mouth when sneezing and coughing to avoid spreading illness if you are sick. And if you do have a family member with 2019-nCoV, the CDC suggests the following:
PREVENTION STEPS FOR PEOPLE CONFIRMED TO HAVE, OR BEING EVALUATED FOR 2019-NCOV INFECTION WHO RECEIVE CARE AT HOME
YOUR DOCTORS AND PUBLIC HEALTH STAFF WILL EVALUATE WHETHER YOU CAN BE CARED FOR AT HOME. IF IT IS DETERMINED THAT YOU CAN BE ISOLATED AT HOME, YOU WILL BE MONITORED BY STAFF FROM YOUR LOCAL OR STATE HEALTH DEPARTMENT. YOU SHOULD FOLLOW THE PREVENTION STEPS BELOW UNTIL A HEALTHCARE PROVIDER OR LOCAL OR STATE HEALTH DEPARTMENT SAYS YOU CAN RETURN TO YOUR NORMAL ACTIVITIES.
STAY HOME EXCEPT TO GET MEDICAL CARE
YOU SHOULD RESTRICT ACTIVITIES OUTSIDE YOUR HOME, EXCEPT FOR GETTING MEDICAL CARE. DO NOT GO TO WORK, SCHOOL, OR PUBLIC AREAS, AND DO NOT USE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION OR TAXIS.
SEPARATE YOURSELF FROM OTHER PEOPLE IN YOUR HOME
AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE, YOU SHOULD STAY IN A DIFFERENT ROOM FROM OTHER PEOPLE IN YOUR HOME. ALSO, YOU SHOULD USE A SEPARATE BATHROOM, IF AVAILABLE.
Call ahead before visiting your doctor
Before your medical appointment, call the healthcare provider and tell them that you have, or are being evaluated for, 2019-nCoV infection. This will help the healthcare provider’s office take steps to keep other people from getting infected.
Wear a facemask
You should wear a facemask when you are in the same room with other people and when you visit a healthcare provider. If you cannot wear a facemask, the people who live with you should wear one while they are in the same room with you.
Cover your coughs and sneezes
Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, or you can cough or sneeze into your sleeve. Throw used tissues in a lined trash can, and immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
Wash your hands
Wash your hands often and thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. You can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available and if your hands are not visibly dirty. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
Avoid sharing household items
You should not share dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, bedding, or other items with other people in your home. After using these items, you should wash them thoroughly with soap and water.
Monitor your symptoms
Seek prompt medical attention if your illness is worsening (e.g., difficulty breathing). Before going to your medical appointment, call the healthcare provider and tell them that you have, or are being evaluated for, 2019-nCoV infection. This will help the healthcare provider’s office take steps to keep other people from getting infected. Ask your healthcare provider to call the local or state health department.
Prevention Steps for Caregivers and Household Members
IF YOU LIVE WITH, OR PROVIDE CARE AT HOME FOR, A PERSON CONFIRMED TO HAVE, OR BEING EVALUATED FOR, 2019-NCOV INFECTION, YOU SHOULD:
MAKE SURE THAT YOU UNDERSTAND AND CAN HELP THE PERSON FOLLOW THE HEALTHCARE PROVIDER’S INSTRUCTIONS FOR MEDICATION AND CARE. YOU SHOULD HELP THE PERSON WITH BASIC NEEDS IN THE HOME AND PROVIDE SUPPORT FOR GETTING GROCERIES, PRESCRIPTIONS, AND OTHER PERSONAL NEEDS.
HAVE ONLY PEOPLE IN THE HOME WHO ARE ESSENTIAL FOR PROVIDING CARE FOR THE PERSON.
OTHER HOUSEHOLD MEMBERS SHOULD STAY IN ANOTHER HOME OR PLACE OF RESIDENCE. IF THIS IS NOT POSSIBLE, THEY SHOULD STAY IN ANOTHER ROOM, OR BE SEPARATED FROM THE PERSON AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. USE A SEPARATE BATHROOM, IF AVAILABLE.
RESTRICT VISITORS WHO DO NOT HAVE AN ESSENTIAL NEED TO BE IN THE HOME.
KEEP ELDERLY PEOPLE AND THOSE WHO HAVE COMPROMISED IMMUNE SYSTEMS OR CHRONIC HEALTH CONDITIONS AWAY FROM THE PERSON. THIS INCLUDES PEOPLE WITH CHRONIC HEART, LUNG OR KIDNEY CONDITIONS, AND DIABETES.
MAKE SURE THAT SHARED SPACES IN THE HOME HAVE GOOD AIR FLOW, SUCH AS BY AN AIR CONDITIONER OR AN OPENED WINDOW, WEATHER PERMITTING.
WASH YOUR HANDS OFTEN AND THOROUGHLY WITH SOAP AND WATER FOR AT LEAST 20 SECONDS. YOU CAN USE AN ALCOHOL-BASED HAND SANITIZER IF SOAP AND WATER ARE NOT AVAILABLE AND IF YOUR HANDS ARE NOT VISIBLY DIRTY. AVOID TOUCHING YOUR EYES, NOSE, AND MOUTH WITH UNWASHED HANDS.
WEAR A DISPOSABLE FACEMASK, GOWN, AND GLOVES WHEN YOU TOUCH OR HAVE CONTACT WITH THE PERSON’S BLOOD, BODY FLUIDS AND/OR SECRETIONS, SUCH AS SWEAT, SALIVA, SPUTUM, NASAL MUCUS, VOMIT, URINE, OR DIARRHEA.
THROW OUT DISPOSABLE FACEMASKS, GOWNS, AND GLOVES AFTER USING THEM. DO NOT REUSE.
WASH YOUR HANDS IMMEDIATELY AFTER REMOVING YOUR FACEMASK, GOWN, AND GLOVES.
AVOID SHARING HOUSEHOLD ITEMS. YOU SHOULD NOT SHARE DISHES, DRINKING GLASSES, CUPS, EATING UTENSILS, TOWELS, BEDDING, OR OTHER ITEMS WITH A PERSON WHO IS CONFIRMED TO HAVE, OR BEING EVALUATED FOR, 2019-NCOV INFECTION. AFTER THE PERSON USES THESE ITEMS, YOU SHOULD WASH THEM THOROUGHLY (SEE BELOW “WASH LAUNDRY THOROUGHLY”).
CLEAN ALL “HIGH-TOUCH” SURFACES, SUCH AS COUNTERS, TABLETOPS, DOORKNOBS, BATHROOM FIXTURES, TOILETS, PHONES, KEYBOARDS, TABLETS, AND BEDSIDE TABLES, EVERY DAY. ALSO, CLEAN ANY SURFACES THAT MAY HAVE BLOOD, BODY FLUIDS AND/OR SECRETIONS OR EXCRETIONS ON THEM.
READ LABEL OF CLEANING PRODUCTS AND FOLLOW RECOMMENDATIONS PROVIDED ON PRODUCT LABELS. LABELS CONTAIN INSTRUCTIONS FOR SAFE AND EFFECTIVE USE OF THE CLEANING PRODUCT INCLUDING PRECAUTIONS YOU SHOULD TAKE WHEN APPLYING THE PRODUCT, SUCH AS WEARING GLOVES OR APRONS AND MAKING SURE YOU HAVE GOOD VENTILATION DURING USE OF THE PRODUCT.
USE A DILUTED BLEACH SOLUTION OR A HOUSEHOLD DISINFECTANT WITH A LABEL THAT SAYS “EPA-APPROVED.” TO MAKE A BLEACH SOLUTION AT HOME, ADD 1 TABLESPOON OF BLEACH TO 1 QUART (4 CUPS) OF WATER. FOR A LARGER SUPPLY, ADD ¼ CUP OF BLEACH TO 1 GALLON (16 CUPS) OF WATER.
WASH LAUNDRY THOROUGHLY.
IMMEDIATELY REMOVE AND WASH CLOTHES OR BEDDING THAT HAVE BLOOD, BODY FLUIDS AND/OR SECRETIONS OR EXCRETIONS ON THEM.
WEAR DISPOSABLE GLOVES WHILE HANDLING SOILED ITEMS. WASH YOUR HANDS IMMEDIATELY AFTER REMOVING YOUR GLOVES.
READ AND FOLLOW DIRECTIONS ON LABELS OF LAUNDRY OR CLOTHING ITEMS AND DETERGENT. IN GENERAL, WASH AND DRY WITH THE WARMEST TEMPERATURES RECOMMENDED ON THE CLOTHING LABEL.
PLACE ALL USED DISPOSABLE GLOVES, GOWNS, FACEMASKS, AND OTHER CONTAMINATED ITEMS IN A LINED CONTAINER BEFORE DISPOSING THEM WITH OTHER HOUSEHOLD WASTE. WASH YOUR HANDS IMMEDIATELY AFTER HANDLING THESE ITEMS.
MONITOR THE PERSON’S SYMPTOMS. IF THEY ARE GETTING SICKER, CALL HIS OR HER MEDICAL PROVIDER AND TELL THEM THAT THE PERSON HAS, OR IS BEING EVALUATED FOR, 2019-NCOV INFECTION. THIS WILL HELP THE HEALTHCARE PROVIDER’S OFFICE TAKE STEPS TO KEEP OTHER PEOPLE FROM GETTING INFECTED. ASK THE HEALTHCARE PROVIDER TO CALL THE LOCAL OR STATE HEALTH DEPARTMENT.
CAREGIVERS AND HOUSEHOLD MEMBERS WHO DO NOT FOLLOW PRECAUTIONS WHEN IN CLOSE CONTACT WITH A PERSON WHO IS CONFIRMED TO HAVE, OR BEING EVALUATED FOR, 2019-NCOV INFECTION, ARE CONSIDERED “CLOSE CONTACTS” AND SHOULD MONITOR THEIR HEALTH. FOLLOW THE PREVENTION STEPS FOR CLOSE CONTACTS BELOW.
DISCUSS ANY ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS WITH YOU STATE OR LOCAL HEALTH DEPARTMENT
PREVENTION STEPS FOR CLOSE CONTACTS
IF YOU HAVE HAD CLOSE CONTACT WITH SOMEONE WHO IS CONFIRMED TO HAVE, OR BEING EVALUATED FOR, 2019-NCOV INFECTION, YOU SHOULD:
MONITOR YOUR HEALTH STARTING FROM THE DAY YOU FIRST HAD CLOSE CONTACT WITH THE PERSON AND CONTINUE FOR 14 DAYS AFTER YOU LAST HAD CLOSE CONTACT WITH THE PERSON. WATCH FOR THESE SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS:
FEVER. TAKE YOUR TEMPERATURE TWICE A DAY.
SHORTNESS OF BREATH OR DIFFICULTY BREATHING.
OTHER EARLY SYMPTOMS TO WATCH FOR ARE CHILLS, BODY ACHES, SORE THROAT, HEADACHE, DIARRHEA, NAUSEA/VOMITING, AND RUNNY NOSE.
IF YOU DEVELOP FEVER OR ANY OF THESE SYMPTOMS, CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER RIGHT AWAY.
BEFORE GOING TO YOUR MEDICAL APPOINTMENT, BE SURE TO TELL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER ABOUT YOUR CLOSE CONTACT WITH SOMEONE WHO IS CONFIRMED TO HAVE, OR BEING EVALUATED FOR, 2019-NCOV INFECTION. THIS WILL HELP THE HEALTHCARE PROVIDER’S OFFICE TAKE STEPS TO KEEP OTHER PEOPLE FROM GETTING INFECTED. ASK YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER TO CALL THE LOCAL OR STATE HEALTH DEPARTMENT.
IF YOU DO NOT HAVE ANY SYMPTOMS, YOU CAN CONTINUE WITH YOUR DAILY ACTIVITIES, SUCH AS GOING TO WORK, SCHOOL, OR OTHER PUBLIC AREAS.
Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, KDWN, iHeart Radio and is Board Certified Family Physician