As many of you are aware from recent news reports, there is an outbreak of coronavirus, a respiratory illness originating from Wuhan, China. The virus has spread to the United States and several other countries.
As your trusted health and wellness partner, OhioHealth is committed to keeping our community safe and healthy.
What is the coronavirus? Coronaviruses are common, and can affect animals as well as humans. The virus causes symptoms resembling a common cold and more severe illnesses, such as bronchitis and pneumonia. Because the current outbreak is caused by a new strain of the coronavirus, humans haven’t built an immunity to it. This means it can spread easier and cause more infections than a virus we have already been exposed to.
How is it spread? Coronaviruses are thought to be spread by respiratory droplets when someone coughs or sneezes, similar to the influenza virus. There is no vaccine at this time to protect against this strain.
What are the signs and symptoms? Symptoms of the coronavirus are believed to appear two to 14 days after exposure. Symptoms seen with this strain range from being mildly sick with fever, cough and shortness of breath, to being severely ill. This strain rarely leads to death.
What is the risk of infection? People at the greatest risk of infection are those in Wuhan, China, or those who have traveled to Wuhan or other parts of China. The CDC is tracking the current number of cases.
How can I protect myself? At this time, the virus is not spreading in the United States and the risk of being exposed is very low. Follow these tips to reduce your risk of spreading the cold, flu or any respiratory viruses:
- 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.
- Use alcohol-based sanitizer if soap and water is not available.
What should I do if you get sick? If you were in China within the past 14 days and feel sick with fever, cough or have difficulty breathing, you should seek medical attention. Influenza activity is very high right now, and you are at a much higher risk of contracting it than the coronavirus.
Call your medical provider before your visit to discuss your risks and symptoms. This will help limit exposure to other people and prepare your provider for an evaluation.
If you are sick, do not travel or go out to reduce the possibility of exposing others.