Within the coronavirus family, there are many different viruses that can cause illness in humans. The most common coronavirus can cause “common cold” symptoms during the winter months. COVID-19 is caused by the virus severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) which originated in Wuhan China in 2019.
COVID 19 is passed by human-human transmission through droplets. Droplets occur when someone sneezes, coughs, or talks. These droplets can be inhaled, land on mucous membranes of another person, or land other objects that are handled. If these contaminated objects are handled, and the person then touches their face (namely eyes, nose, or mouth) then infection can take place.
The CDC also warns pet owners that this can potentially be spread to your pets, and a very low number of pets have tested positive. CDC recommends treating animals with care and to limit the number of people or animals interacting with your animal.
The World Health Organization (WHO) advises minimum distancing of at least 3 feet between humans, but other professionals within the WHO recommend greater distances when possible. It is also recommended that proper hand hygiene (scrubbing hands and fingers for 40-60 seconds) and cleaning/disinfect regularly used objects be a frequent occurrence.
The CDC recommends wearing a face covering that covers both nose and mouth. The better the seal to the face, the less likely you are to contract COVID-19. Masks vary on effectiveness, and some of the best masks are N-95. These filter out 95% of particulates, but WHO and CDC both recommend any sort of face covering, which is superior to nothing in spreading and contracting the disease. Finally, if you are sick please stay at home to help prevent the spread unless seeking medical treatment.
There is currently no vaccine available for COVID-19.
A wide range of symptoms for COVID-19 have been reported. These include:
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Nasal congestion or runny nose
- Muscle or body aches
- Sore throat
- New loss of smell or taste
- Nausea or vomiting
The estimated incubation period is between 2 and 14 days with a median of 5 days. It is important to note that some people become infected and do not develop any symptoms or feel unwell.
Severity ranges from those who have no symptoms to those who need intubation and care in an ICU. Mild to moderate cases compose 81% of known infections, while severe-critical patients make up the other 19%.
Pre-existing conditions are a predictor for severity of disease in an individual. Age is the most well known risk factor, with elderly over 80 years old having up to 14.8% fatality rate. Those younger than 55 years old with <1% fatality rate.
Other risk factors include diabetes, obesity, heart discease, and chronic lung disease, to name a few.
There are currently no proven antiviral treatments for COVID-19. As the virus is new, there have not been enough studies that prove any specific regimen of medications to be superior, although there are many studies underway at this time.
Treatment is supportive and the vast majority who get COVID-19 will not need more than fluids and rest. For severe to critical patients, they may need respiratory support and should seek help in the emergency department.
If you have a known exposure to COVID-19, it is recommended that you quarantine for 14 days after your last contact with the person who has COVID-19.
Per CDC, If you get infected with COVID-19, you can be around others after 10 days since symptoms first appears AND 24 hours with no fever and no fever-reducing medications AND other COVID-19 symptoms are improving.