Stone Creek Family Medicine
I want you to stay healthy and, together, we will persevere through this Coronavirus pandemic (world-wide spread of a disease). Many of you have questions about the Coronavirus or (COVID-19) so we are posting this guide to help navigate this situation. COVID-19 is the name of the disease. The name comes from Coronavirus Disease which was discovered in 2019. The actual name of the virus causing COVID-19 is severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). This virus is genetically similar to the coronavirus that caused the SARS outbreak in 2003. Coronavirus, named for the crown-like spikes on its surface, have seven types which can infect humans and cause symptoms.
The COVID-19 type is caused by a novel virus as its natural host is an animal but it evolved to be able to infect human beings and to be passed from person to person. That means it is new to our immune systems so we have no natural immunity which potentially causes more severe illness. COVID-19 disease appears to be as contagious and as lethal as influenza, but more dangerous because we don’t have a vaccine or treatment. People over age 60 and with underlying medical conditions are the most susceptible. Some infected patients develop a serious viral pneumonia in both lungs requiring intensive care treatment and a ventilator. Younger people with the infection may not have obvious symptoms and can unknowingly pass the COVID-19 to their parents and grandparents.
The knowledge about this Coronavirus is rapidly evolving but I hope this guide will help keep you healthy and safe. The spread of the COVID-19 will start gradually and then will rapidly expand (think of popcorn popping). Hopefully the coming of warm weather will help extinguish the virus and give us time to come up with an effective vaccine or antiviral treatment if it returns in the fall.
Symptoms of COVID-19 infection:
- High fever (greater than 101), non-productive/dry cough, and shortness of breath are the major symptoms. The symptoms can appear 2-14 days after exposure. Many patients may also have a runny nose.
- The symptoms are somewhat similar to Influenza A and B, but the influenza virus tends to cause more body aches, while patients with COVID-19 experience more shortness of breath. We can treat influenza with antivirals like Tamiflu, but there is no proven treatment yet for COVID-19.
- As we are entering the spring many patients develop allergy symptoms (runny nose, itchy eyes, sneezing, scratchy throat) which can mimic a viral infection. The difference is that allergy symptoms are more of an inconvenience, do not cause a fever, and patients do not usually feel bad.
Effective cleansing and sanitizing agents for surfaces:
- Routine cleaning with disinfectants of frequently touched surfaces (doorknobs, light switches, handles, faucets, desks, tables, cell phone surfaces, computer keyboards, etc.) will help prevent transmission
- Disinfectants such as Clorox wipes, Lysol spray or other EPA-registered household disinfectants can be effective.
- Alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol or diluted bleach solutions can be used (NEVER mix bleach with ammonia or any other cleaner). Prepare a bleach solution by mixing four teaspoons (20 ml) of bleach per quart (32 ounces) of water.
The COVID-19 pandemic is probably going to get worse before it gets better. All of our lives have already been impacted but we are resilient and innovative. Working together, we will get through this. Wash your hands frequently. Avoid touching your face. Minimize exposure to crowds. If sick, stay home. Check in on loved ones and friends and be sure to take good care of yourself to boost your immunity. The situation is changing rapidly and hopefully life will return to normal sooner than later. Summer will be here soon
Dr. McWilliams and all of the Stone Creek Family Medicine staff