Articles, Blog

Coronavirus Virus: What You Need To Know

February 6, 2020

– Hi, I’m Stephanie Moore
with UnityPoint Health and I am joined here with Dr. Rossa. She’s one of our, let me get this right, infectious disease specialists
here at UnityPoint Health, and we’re gonna talk all
things coronavirus because we know there’s some
misinformation out there and we wanna make sure that
we’re the reliable source, so we’re gonna dive right into it. Let’s just start with
what is the coronavirus? – Yeah, hi, yeah so the
2019 novel coronavirus is a new type of virus that
belongs to a large family of viruses called coronaviruses. Many of this ones infect humans, some others infect animals, but this particular new strain has not been seen in humans before. – And what is the latest
with it and its spread? We know where it started and
we know some of the numbers. – Yeah, so in terms of where it started, it seemed to have
originated in Wuhan, China. Early reports were linking cases to the seafood and
animal market over there. To this point, there have been
about 20,000 cases in China with nearly 500 deaths, and many cases all
around the world as well. Here in the United States,
there have been 11 cases, and two of those cases
have been linked to direct person-to-person spread amongst
close household contacts of other patients. And now in terms of what we
know this virus looks like or how are people presenting, right? How does that illness look like? We know that the majority of
the patients are presenting with fever, cough, shortness of breath, but they’ve also been
described as having diarrhea, nausea and vomiting and runny
nose and even some instances of some confusion as well. – Something top of mind
for a lot of people is how is this transmitted between people? – Yeah, so it is transmitted
through respiratory droplets, which are essentially just tiny particles that are put out there into the world when an infected person coughs or sneezes. This is how many viruses are transmitted including influenza, and so once those
droplets are put out there then another person can just inhale them and then get infected. – So that could be from sneezing– – Yes, coughing. – We aren’t sure if it’s, you
know, touching a surface yet, but we do know about those droplets. – Yeah, so right now we do know that it’s transmitted
through respiratory droplets. We do not know if it’s
transmitted by touching surfaces that have been touched by
someone who is infected. – The next question I’m sure
top of mind for people is is there any way to treat this virus? – So right now, there
is no specific treatment for the coronavirus,
for this novel strain. Now, if someone gets sick, the type of treatment that
they would receive is more to alleviate symptoms, and if they get very sick, then they would receive other
type of supportive therapies for their lungs and things like that. But there’s no specific
anti-viral medication or even a vaccine that we can use. – Who is most at risk for this and if someone’s pretty healthy, doesn’t have any past morbidities, could they get this? – Yeah, so we know that there is what we call a spectrum of illness, right? So many people have had what would be considered a mild illness. Like I said, some fever, some body aches and things like that, but some people have gotten really sick. The information that has come out from large case reports from China continues to support that
it’s elderly patients and patients with underlying illnesses that are at the highest risk
of developing severe illness or even death. So elderly patients
and those ones who have underlying heart disease,
chronic lung disease, and things like that. – So let’s talk here. Someone walks into one of our clinics, maybe presenting with
some of these symptoms, what are we doing here? – So currently we are
following guidance provided by the Iowa Department
of Public Health and CDC and screening patients for
fever or respiratory symptoms such as cough, shortness of breath, and a history of travel to
China in the past 14 days. And it’s important to
clarify that screening is for those two things, for fever or respiratory
symptoms and a history of travel. – And those protocols we’re following, you would have to send
testing off to the CDC? – Yeah, so what would happen is that if a person is found to have
fever or respiratory symptoms and a history of travel to China, then we would contact the
Department of Public Health and arrange for testing. Now, we would test for
common viruses circulating in the community such as influenza, but we would also arrange special testing for the novel coronavirus. Now, the novel coronavirus can only, that test can only be
performed at the CDC, so that’s why we would collect the sample and then send it to the CDC. Now, people might be
wondering what’s gonna happen with one of these patients, right? Or what would happen if someone is thought to be potentially infected with the new virus, right? So ultimately where a person
is treated will depend on how sick they are. If someone comes with fever
or respiratory symptoms and the history of travel to China and we proceed with testing, but their illness is mild, then they would go home and Public Health would advise
voluntary home confinement. If a person is severely
ill so that they need to come into the hospital, then we would admit them to the hospital and follow all the infection
prevention precautions during that hospitalization. – A lot of people travel
for business around here, what’s the recommendation right now if you do have travel plans? – Yeah, so the CDC has
issued a level three warning, and that essentially recommends to avoid all nonessential travel to China. – And of course we’re here in the Midwest, it seems scary but we’re
also in the Midwest. Should we be as worried? – Yeah, the world is more
and more global, right? So I can tell you that I am very scared about circulating viruses
such as influenza, and would say we continue to do screening for other potential threats
like the novel coronavirus. There have been, the number of cases here of
the novel coronavirus here in the US are very, very low, so other things far scarier at this point for us here in the Midwest I would say. – Yeah, so let’s talk
about the flu a little bit because another virus that is, we should be a little more worried about. – Yes, definitely, so influenza
activity at this point is actually very high. There’s been a estimated
19 million cases of flu and 180,000 hospitalization
and 10,000 deaths from it. The good thing is that we
actually have a vaccine that we can use, so one big recommendation
is that it’s not too late to get your influenza vaccine. – And then we need to be all practicing, during this sick season, several things to just keep us safe from all viruses and those kind of things. – Yeah, so we continue to
recommend wash your hands. If you don’t have soap
and water available, then it’s okay to use an
alcohol-based hand sanitizer. It’s important to avoid contact with people who are looking sick, and also, if you are sick yourself, then stay home and give
yourself a day or two to actually get better. And then the other thing
is to keep the surfaces at home very clean. And lastly, again, I cannot emphasize enough
how important it is to actually get your flu vaccine. – And any age, we’re just recommending that it’s never too late,
we can say that again. – We can say that it’s not too late to get the influenza vaccine, yes. – And then of course we mentioned this at the beginning, but there’s just a lot of
information with social media and different outlets out there, but we recommend CDC and UnityPoint Heath for accurate information. – Yes.
– Would you agree? – Yes, I would recommend that and it is encouraging to see that CDC has been partnering with some
of the big browser companies to make their results like
top of your browsing, right? So yeah, go to reliable
sources of information, like UnityPoint, like the CDC, and if you are feeling
sick actually go ahead and contact your doctor
so you can get cared for.

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