Grab a book and a baked good and stay in to avoid spread of COVID-19
Guest Post Written by: Dr. Jilaine Bolek Berquist
As a physician, I care deeply about spreading accurate medical information on public health issues, which is why I am delighted to provide you this guest blog regarding the recent coronavirus outbreak.
SARS-CoV-2 is a virus of the family coronavirus, which is a group that typically cause respiratory tract infections in humans. While most of these infections are mild, rarer forms of the virus, such as with SARS-CoV-2, can be lethal. The current virus originated in an animal, but was transmitted to humans with subsequent human to human spread throughout the world. It is spread through droplets of virus produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes but can also be transmitted on surfaces touched by a person carrying the virus.
Why all the media attention and hype?
The concern with COVID-19 is in the mortality rate (or death rate) which is currently estimated at 1-2% of people with clinical disease. This is higher than the seasonal influenza virus. Most people contracting the virus will only have mild symptoms, but those who are elderly or have compromised immune systems may be more at risk for severe complications and death. As the virus is spread easily from person to person, taking the precautions to limit spread is necessary to keep the entire community safe.
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms range from a very mild flu-like illness with cough and fever to pneumonia and respiratory failure. Symptoms generally appear 2-14 days after exposure and start as fever, cough and shortness of breath.
If these symptoms occur and you feel you need medical attention, I recommend calling your local health system for advice on the the next step. As most cases are mild and testing kits are limited, they may direct you to stay home to avoid spreading the illness to others. There is currently no treatment for COVID-19, but there are supportive therapies hospitals can provide for patients with severe disease.
What can I do to prevent contracting COVID-19 or spreading it to others?
- Wash your hands often, especially after sneezing or coughing. This means with soap and water and for the length of time it takes to sing the “Happy Birthday” song… twice. Be sure to wash between fingers and also the thumbs, which are typically missed.
- If soap and water are not available, alcohol-based hand sanitizer can be used
- Avoid close contact with people who are ill
- Avoid touching your face
- Stay home if you are feeling ill
- Wash and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home and in the work place
- Consider staying away from large crowds of people
I have a spring break trip planned in the US, should I cancel it?
The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) does not have specific guidelines for this at this time. This should be considered on a case-by-case basis with the following questions in mind:
- Are you traveling to an area with current COVID-19 spread?
- Do you plan to be in crowded settings for most of the trip? This would include long plane flights, conferences or public events
- Are you or your travel companions at risk of severe disease if you get COVID-19 or do you live with someone at risk of severe disease? (Think older adults or people with serious chronic medical disease)
- Is COVID-19 spreading actively spreading where you live?
I hope I’ve provided you with some helpful tips to do your part in preventing spread of COVID-19. Of course staying at home more often might have its perks, such as honing your baking skills with one of Ritzy Mom’s fabulous recipes…
Just wash your hand first.
Jilaine Bolek Berquist, MD is a Rheumatologist with Mercy Health System in Janesville, Wisconsin. Her medical interests include arthritic conditions and autoimmune diseases. She is the social media editor for the Rheumatology journal, Seminars in Arthritis and Rheumatism. Dr Bolek Berquist lives in Madison, Wisconsin with her husband and two children. Follow on twitter @bolekberqui.
*Special Thanks to Dr. Jilaine Bolek Berquist for writing this guest post! I met Dr. Bolek Berquist through our mutual love of baking. She is a respected doctor and wonderful lady! Sarita
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