With all the information circulating online right now about the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), it can be tough to know what's true and what isn't. Don't give in to the panic! Read on to get the facts. You can also visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to learn more.
What exactly is the novel coronavirus?
The 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is a new virus that causes respiratory illness in people and can spread from person-to-person. This virus was first identified during an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China.
What are its symptoms?
Patients with 2019-nCoV have reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of:
- Shortness of breath
The CDC says at this time that it believes "symptoms of 2019-nCoV may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure. This is based on what has been seen previously as the incubation period of MERS viruses."
How can I help protect myself?
There is currently no vaccine to protect against 2019-nCoV. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus. There are simple everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses. These include:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
How does the novel coronavirus spread?
According to the CDC, this virus probably originally emerged from an animal source, but now seems to be spreading from person-to-person. The exact way the virus is spread is not fully known. With similar coronaviruses (MERS and SARS), person-to-person spread is thought to have happened mainly via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how influenza and other viruses that cause respiratory illness spread.
There also may be some spread when a person touches a surface or object that has a virus on it and then touches his or her own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes. The spread of SARS and MERS between people has generally occurred between close contacts. There is still much more to learn about 2019-nCoV and investigations are ongoing.
Is there a treatment?
There is no specific antiviral treatment for 2019-nCoV. People with 2019-nCov can seek medical care to help relieve symptoms.
Has anyone in the United States been infected? Am I at risk?
The first infection with 2019-nCoV in the United States was reported on Jan. 21. The first confirmed instance of person-person-spread with this virus in the US was reported on Jan. 30. The current count of cases of infection with 2019-nCoV in the United States is available on the CDC's website.
This is a rapidly evolving situation and the risk may change as often as daily. Check the CDC's 2019 Novel Coronavirus website for the latest updates.
What should I do if I recently traveled to China and got sick?
If you were in China within the past 14 days and feel sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, you should seek medical care. Call your primary care provider before you go into the office and tell them about your travel and your symptoms. They will give you instructions for how to receive care without exposing others to your illness.
While sick, to reduce the possibility of spreading illness to others:
- Avoid contact with people – don't leave home
- Wear a facemask if you are around others
- Cover sneezes and coughs with a tissue
- Wash hands frequently
- Don't share personal items with others in your home (i.e. dishes, cups, utensils, towels or bedding)
- Monitor your symptoms and if your illness worsens, alert your healthcare provider
- Delay any travel
Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to learn more. Need a primary care provider? We have office locations around the Tristate!