The latest threat to global health is the ongoing outbreak of respiratory disease that was recently given the name of coronavirus disease 2019 ( COVID -19 ). As it nears its pandemic status understanding of its clinical spectrum, transmission and prevention is a need.
Clinical symptoms of COVID -19
Once infected with the virus, symptoms can take up to 2-14 days to appear.
- Shortness of breath
- Sputum production
- Less common symptoms were sore throat, Nasal congestion, diarrhea nausea.
As per published data - 98 % of patients present with fever, followed by fatigue and dry cough in approximately half and bodyaches, and shortness of breath in 1/3rd patients. Only 10 % patients had diarrhea and nausea preceding fever.
People most susceptible to developing a severe disease and infection are those with underlying health conditions, elderly and immune comprised individuals.
Transmission of Coronavirus:
Virus spreads mainly from person to person:
- Transmission can happen between people who are in close contact with one another ( 6 feet )
- Through respiratory droplets when the infected person coughs or sneezes - these droplets get into the air and someone else can breathe them in .
- There is documented cases of asymptomatic transmission ( once infected symptoms can take unto 14 days to appear but you can still spread the virus to others during this time or some who may be infected but never present the symptoms ).
- A person is more contagious when they have symptoms.
Virus can also spread from contact with infected surfaces or objects:
- Person can get infected with COVID -19 by touching a surface or object that has virus and subsequently touching their mouth ,nose or eyes.
- We still have lot to learn about this virus : virus can live on a metal surface for 12 hours and on fabric for about 6-12 hours.
- So if you come in contact with metal surface wash your hands with soap and water thoroughly.
- For clothes laundry detergent should kill the virus.
Preventative measures you can take:
There is currently no vaccine for Coronavirus and the best way to prevent illness is to avoid exposure to the virus.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your mouth, nose or eyes.
- Stay home if you are sick.
- Avoid traveling to areas that are hotspots for infection or avoid any unnecessary travel.
- Cover cough or sneeze with a tissue and throw the tissue in a trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using regular household cleaning sprays or wipe.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water or at least 20 seconds ( as long as it takes to sing happy birthday song twice ) frequently during the day . If hand soap is not available use an alcohol based hand sanitizer with latest 60 % alcohol.
- At this point CDC does not recommend healthy people wearing mask.
How do you prepare apart from following preventative measures to keep yourself safe: Many Americans are already preparing for an extended stay at home. There is nothing wrong with preparing for several days at home if required. Buying extra disinfectant, buying toiletries, buying some laundry detergent, and stocking up on food that will last for at least 2-3 weeks. Since its a dynamic situation it is better to be prepared.
COVID-19 infection during pregnancy:
Pregnant women are relatively immunosuppressed and have altered respiratory physiology. One study published in a well renowned journal describes pregnant women in their 3rd trimester who contracted COVID -19 viral infection with symptoms in Wuhan - All of them did well and no virus was detected in the new born. Clearly there is lots to be discovered about this virus - we are just beginning to understand how this virus is behaving.
Whats cooking in terms of treatment:
Remdesivir an investigational broad spectrum antiviral agent has been shown in a study to hold promise. Data also shows timing of antiviral initiation may be critical. NIH clinical trial of Remdesivir to treat COVID-19 has begun. Be safe and take extra preventative measures and seek help immediately if you notice any of those symptoms.
NB: Most of my data comes from CDC, UNICEF and articles published in NEJM, Lancet ( well renowned medical journals ).