Published: February 28, 2020
You can’t turn on the news or read the headlines without seeing something about the coronavirus and its global impact. From China, to Europe, and most recently Latin America, the disease has been reported in 50 international locations, including the U.S.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that, as of Feb. 28, areas with widespread or sustained community transmission include China, Iran, Italy, Japan, and South Korea.
As of Feb. 27, the CDC reports there are 59 cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. with 14 cases in individuals repatriated to the U.S. from China and 42 from the Diamond Princesscruise ship. Two cases were spread person-to-person from known patients. While one case in an individual with no known relevant travel history or exposure to another known patient is still under investigation, the CDC states that the virus is NOT currently spreading in U.S. communities and considers the risk of COVID-19 to the general U.S. population to be low. Updated information can been reviewed at cdc.gov as it becomes available.
Named coronavirus disease 2019, or COVID-19 for short, it impacts the respiratory system and causes mild to severe illness, including death; the majority of cases are mild.
“There are many types of coronaviruses including those which cause the common cold,” explained Dr. Rishika Motiani, an infectious diseases specialist with HopeHealth. “The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19. At present, the possibility of COVID-19 is considered primarily in patients who have traveled to China within the past 14 days or who have had close contact with a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19.”
“The virus spreads from person-to-person with an incubation period of 14 days. Respiratory symptoms usually occur approximately three to six days after presumptive exposure,” Motiani said.
Common symptoms of the disease are:
- Trouble breathing
- Muscle aches
“The most frequent serious manifestation of disease is pneumonia,” said Motiani. “Gastroentestinal symptoms such as diarrhea and nausea also have been reported.”
Dr. Michael K. Foxworth II, pediatric infectious diseases specialist at HopeHealth, advises people to follow the same general measures used to reduce transmission of the flu: diligent hand washing with warm soapy water, respiratory hygiene, and avoiding close contact with ill individuals.
“Good old-fashioned hand-washing is important,” said Foxworth. “Since we’ve had so many more people dying of the flu, getting your flu shot is also still important and available.”
Dr. Foxworth stressed that staying home when you are sick is one of the best ways to prevent spreading any virus, including the flu or COVID-19.
HopeHealth is one of 23 nonprofit, federally qualified health centers in South Carolina. We provide quality and affordable health care services to individuals in Florence, Clarendon, and Williamsburg Counties and infectious diseases services in Aiken, Clarendon, Florence, Orangeburg, and Williamsburg Counties. To become a patient, call 843-667-9414 or visit hope-health.org.