What is the coronavirus?
When we think of coronavirus, we think of the outbreak that is currently happening. However, there are common strains of the virus that usually cause mild to moderate upper respiratory illnesses. In fact, most people are infected with a coronavirus at least once in their lifetime. The strains of coronavirus that appear in the news are the highly infectious and aggressive mutations that cause severe outbreaks and symptoms, such as SARS in 2003, MERS in 2012, and the current outbreak of COVID-19.
How does COVID-19 spread?
Currently, we know that COVID-19 spreads via respiratory droplets, where an infected person coughs or sneezes and the droplets are inhaled by another person. It is thought that a person is most contagious when they are most symptomatic, but there is some evidence that spread is possible before symptoms exist.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
The primary symptoms of the virus are fever, cough, and shortness of breath. These symptoms range from mild to severe illness and death. At this time, the CDC believes that symptoms may appear between 2-14 days after exposure.
How do you know if you have COVID-19 or Influenza?
In the United States, the risk of getting COVID-19 is currently low; it is much more likely that a person is infected with Influenza. If you recently traveled to China, or another country that has reported infections, or were recently in the presence of someone that was diagnosed with COVID-19, please call East Cary Family Physicians and inform them of your exposure. While we want to be aware of your health status, currently only hospitals are able to test for COVID-19 so you will be referred for testing if we deem necessary. If you do not have any known exposures, it is likely that you have Influenza and you can make an appointment at East Cary Family Physicians to test for Influenza.
How do you prevent infection?
Currently, no vaccine exists to prevent COVID-19. If you or someone you know is sick, it is important to use the same precautions you would use for other respiratory viruses, including: avoiding close contact with those who are sick; staying home when you are sick; cleaning surfaces with a household cleaning spray; wearing a facemask if you are sick; and washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.