The news is sensational and everyone has heard of the quarantines, face mask shortages, and other extremes the people of China find themselves facing. But, as Americans, should we be worried?
Here we tell you all we know about the coronavirus, what precautions you need to take, and if you should really be that worried about the virus.
What is the 2019 Novel Coronavirus?
The novel coronavirus is one of a larger group of similar viruses ranging from mild to deadly.
This category included some major virus outbreaks like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, better known by its acronym SARS, and Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome, known as MERS.
While the coronavirus is usually just an instigator for the common cold, this novel strain has never been seen before. It’s causing major bouts of upper respiratory infection and severe cases of pneumonia.
It’s spread between people through physical contact with someone diagnosed with the virus. In order to be exposed, you must be within 6 feet of an infected person for a long period of time. However, there are some reports that suggest the virus has gone airborne.
Symptoms you can expect from contracting this virus are very similar to a normal upper respiratory attack. You can expect cough, fever, and shortness of breath.
What’s the Good News?
Most people who become infected will get better on their own. If you’re healthy otherwise, you should endure the virus without any serious complications. It will play itself out just like an overly miserable flu.
The people who need to worry are those with already compromised immune systems, respiratory disorders like asthma or chronic bronchitis, the elderly, and small children and babies. These people are more likely to have the most severe effects of the virus and be at the greatest risk of death.
How Can I Protect Myself From the Coronavirus?
The Cleveland Clinic’s Dr. Steven Gordon has been immersing himself in research about the 2019 novel coronavirus. As the Chairman of their Department of Infectious Disease, he’s become an American expert on the virus and has been watching since the first news of the outbreak.
He stresses that preventative measures are the same as avoiding any cold or flu. Here are the steps you should take to keep yourself healthy:
- Wash your hands. Use soap and water and do so thoroughly. The water should be as hot as you can stand it. If you can not wash at least use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer when you switch in-between locations.
- Use the inside of your elbow to completely cover your nose or mouth when sneezing or coughing.
- If you’re not feeling well, stay home. Do not go into work or school whether you think it’s serious or not. Do not risk getting other people sick.
- Avoid contact with people who are ill. Even though it may be polite to bring them chicken soup it’s much better to keep a safe distance and send a get well card.
Luckily, The National Institutes of Health are currently working hard on creating a vaccine that targets this novel coronavirus strain. They are in the early stages but will hopefully be done soon.
Do Americans Need to Be Concerned About the Coronavirus or Are We Safe?
Dr. Gordon and others in the scientific and medical communities do not think that Americans have any major cause for concern. The immediate health risk to Americans is relatively low.
Also, the death rate of this virus has been less aggressive than the SARS epidemic and much lower than that of the MERS virus.
If you have traveled to any part of China recently you need to take more pre-emptive measures. Make sure you are honest with your doctor and see what their plan is for screenings.
Right now though, the CDC and other agencies’ main focus is in the Hubei region of mainland China where the virus originated and while there have been a few cases in Canada, they are hopeful that they have the virus well contained.
Take Precautions, Be Smart, See Your Doctor Regularly
So, should you be worried about the novel coronavirus? The blunt answer? Maybe. Depending on your personal risk factors you are able to make a more accurate assessment.
If you have traveled to China recently, especially if you’re in the more vulnerable categories, make sure you get to the doctor right away. Even a small cough could be an indicator of the virus.
Are you looking for a primary care physician? Contact us at Hillendale Primary Care today!