Sorry – this post has nothing to do with grief. I wear my doctor hat and put my mom hat aside with this topic.
Parents have asked me if they need to worry about coronavirus.
Let’s review what is going on: A new coronavirus (2019-nCoV) started to cause infection in China, in the Hubei province. It is thought to have started in a food market and it was initially in an animal and infected a human. Since the infection was discovered, the Chinese government and now the WHO (World Health Organization) and CDC and other countries are actively working together to control the spread. The virus’ genomic sequence is known already and all countries and agencies are working together to test for the virus and share information on spread, control and care of patients with infection.
As of 2030 hours Jan 29, 170 deaths have been reported due to the virus. There are 71 cases in 15 other countries. Only 1% of cases have occurred outside of China and no deaths have occurred outside of China. The majority of cases are minor respiratory symptoms. 20% of cases are severe such as pneumonia, ARDS, and renal failure. 2% result in death.
It is an active outbreak and scientists are learning about this virus day by day, hour by hour. This is a fluid situation. Do not think this virus is going to overtake our world and we cannot stop it. The WHO is working diligently to control the spread.
There is no specific treatment. There is no vaccine. The virus is different than SARS – It takes approximately 2 weeks to show symptoms after exposure and during this time the virus can be transmitted. It is spread by close respiratory contact. It is by droplet (cough and sneeze) but could also be spread by fomite (the virus staying for a time on an object, then a person touches their eyes or mouth or nose and are exposed)
It is appropriate to be concerned. It is not time to panic.
So how do I answer the question a parent asks me– what can I do so I do not get this virus? How do I keep my family safe?
- Avoid travel to China. Avoid as you can close contact to a person that has recently traveled to China.
- Keep up to date on news. It is changing every day. The knowledge of the virus is changing too. World, US and local news are all important. When we had a high numbers of measles cases in the US I wanted to know if any cases were in the Chicago area and I paid attention to where cases were in the US.
- Avoid the airport, train station, any areas where there is a great chance of exposure to people who are likely to be traveling internationally.
- Depending on the number of cases in the US we may have to avoid large groups of people in big cities
- Take care of your own health. Currently I don’t think we need to wear masks in the US but you can wash your hands often. Cover your coughs and sneezes. Get enough sleep and eat healthy.
Please understand – at this moment we have way more of a chance in the US of being exposed to influenza then this corona virus. We have seen a surge of influenza cases at our office. The last bullet point suggestion is most important to help prevent you getting the flu. Oh — and a flu shot – it is not too late!!!