Airplanes have been grounded, flights canceled, travel bans are commonplace and whole cities have come to a standstill. This is the reality for much of China today, due to the widespread outbreak of the novel coronavirus. This virus, labeled a “Public Health Emergency of International Concern” by the World Health Organization (WHO), has infected 20,000 people and has caused over 400 deaths, according to latest estimates reported by CNN1.
“The coronavirus has raised a lot of concern internationally,” said Medco ER & Urgent Care’s Regional Medical Director, Dr. Tariq Vora. “Thanks to the fast response of healthcare workers, it has been quickly identified and risks have been reduced. However, it is good to educate ourselves and to take preventative measures to retain our health during this outbreak.”
A cousin to well-known animal-borne viruses, such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), the novel coronavirus has medical researchers around the world scrambling to develop an effective treatment. Most agree that the best treatment at this point is prevention.
What is coronavirus?
First discovered in a group of people with pneumonia symptoms in the city of Wuhan in central China, the coronavirus quickly spread to other people. Patients with this virus can develop a respiratory symptoms similar to pneumonia or bronchitis, which can deteriorate to the point of death. However, the percentage of people affected with the coronavirus resulting in death is very low—approximately 3%—according to current data from WHO2.
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms include respiratory concerns such as shortness of breath or breathing difficulties. A fever and cough are also common symptoms of the virus. “In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death,” according to the World Health Organization2.
Who is at risk?
Since the coronavirus was identified by health officials in Wuhan and the genetic makeup was shared internationally, the spread has been reasonably contained. Healthcare workers have the ability to identify which strain of coronavirus or other virus is affecting a patient, which has also helped contain the spread. However, each person should consider his or her own risk factors to determine how to best protect themselves.
The highest risk factor includes travel to China. International travel to any of the 20 other countries reporting cases of coronavirus can also be a risk factor.
How does it spread?
The coronavirus originally came from animals and spread to humans. After that, it has spread from people to people who were in close proximity to each other. Individuals can be exposed to the virus by being near an infected person.
To contain the spread, China has quarantined the city of Wuhan and other cities and has issued a travel ban. The U.S. has been screening arriving international passengers for symptoms at major points of entry. At this time, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) considers the United States at low risk3.
What can I do to protect myself?
Continue using safe public health practices such as washing your hands frequently and sanitizing them. Avoid touching door handles and handrails, if possible. Sneeze into your elbow. Use a tissue and throw it away immediately.
If you’re sick, stay home. If you have a cough, congestion or difficulty breathing, seek medical attention. Any difficulty breathing should receive immediate medical care.
“Just pay attention to how often you are washing your hands and increase that number,” said Dr. Vora. “But most importantly, any time you are having breathing difficulties, come to Medco ER & Urgent Care right away. Don’t wait.”
Finally, since the coronavirus originated from animals, WHO is advising people to thoroughly cook meat and eggs before eating.
What are the treatments?
As suggested by the name, the coronavirus is a virus, so antibiotics aren’t effective in treating it. Currently, research is being conducted worldwide to discover an effective treatment. However, if a patient with coronavirus develops a secondary infection, such as a respiratory infection, that may be able to be treated with antibiotics or other medications.
What should I do if I think I may have the virus?
If you suspect you have a virus or are not feeling well, or if you are suffering from breathing difficulties, come immediately to Medco ER & Urgent Care. As you do, try to limit your exposure to other people. Wear a medical mask if possible and keep your hands washed.
Medco ER & Urgent Care has two facilities where our qualified physicians are ready 24/7 to take excellent care of you.
- In Frisco, come to 5600 Eldorado Parkway across from McDonald’s and Costco. Call us @ 469-392-4100.
- In Plano, visit us at 3960 Legacy Drive on the corner of Legacy and Coit Road. Call us @ 469-392-4000.