With news of a contagious coronavirus spreading, you may be worried that your family could be affected. The novel coronavirus, discovered in China in late 2019, is part of the human coronavirus family. While the current risk of contracting the illness is relatively low, here’s what you need to know about this condition and its symptoms.
What is Human Coronavirus or the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)?
Coronaviruses are named for the crown-like spikes on the surface of the virus. Common human coronaviruses usually cause mild to moderate upper-respiratory tract illnesses, like the common cold. At the onset of the illness, symptoms may include:
- A general feeling of being unwell
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
- Difficulty breathing
The virus can become more severe, leading to lower-respiratory tract illnesses, such as pneumonia or bronchitis. Because the 2019-nCoV is a new virus there is not a readily available test. Testing will need to be planned by the health department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC.) There is no specific treatment for 2019-nCoV. At this point, just like with the common cold, the treatment being provided is supportive to help alleviate symptoms.
How Does Coronavirus Spread?
You’re likely familiar with previous coronavirus outbreaks include MERS (MERS-CoV) and SARS (SARS-CoV). Research shows that coronaviruses most commonly spread from an infected person to others through:
- Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
- The air by coughing and sneezing
- Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands
Where Did The Novel Coronavirus Come From?
In late 2019, the illness was first identified in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China. As of January 27, 2020, there have been more than 2,700 confirmed cases and 82 reported deaths, but only 5 cases have been found in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is closely monitoring the spread of this virus.
I Have the Symptoms Listed Above. Do I Have Coronavirus?
Most people with respiratory symptoms do not have the virus. If you did not travel to China recently, there is little risk of infection. It’s more likely that you’re experiencing symptoms of the flu, RSV or other respiratory viruses that are common. However, if you did travel to a region impacted by the Wuhan Coronavirus, you should call ahead before going to the doctor or emergency room near you .
Keep Your Family Healthy
You can protect yourself and others by washing your hands frequently or using alcohol-based sanitizer. You should also take precautions to avoid individuals who may be sick. If you or a loved one have severe respiratory symptoms, you should see a physician or visit an emergency room near you.
It’s normal to have concerns for your family’s health and safety. While you can take steps to protect yourself from the virus, such as practicing good hygiene, know that the AdventHealth care team is here for you.