With the outbreak of a new strain of coronavirus in China dominating the headlines how worried should we be here in the United States? Travelers and people all around the world are understandably concerned about the risk of contracting this deadly virus.
Did you know that the common cold is also a coronavirus?
Just like the common cold, this new coronavirus attacks the respiratory system causing symptoms like fever, cough and eventually pneumonia. People get sick because their immune system has never see that particular virus before and it needs time to mount a response.
Viruses mutate ALL the time – that’s why we catch colds every year.
The news reports are troubling with a rapid increase in cases and many deaths from the infection. Other human coronaviruses (HCoVs) have caused epidemics such as SARS in 2003 and more recently MERS in 2012.
The World Health Organization (WHO) monitors new disease outbreaks and works with health agencies around the globe to contain epidemics and prevent pandemics – where a new virus spreads across multiple parts of the world. The current coronavirus outbreak is still confined to China with only sporadic cases in other countries.
While countries all around the world work to contain the spread of this new coronavirus, your chances of contracting it are still quite low. Your chances of catching the flu however are much higher.
The CDC recommends that all people over age 6 months get vaccinated against the flu. So far the 2019 – 2020 flu season has been quite severe. An estimated 15 million Americans have caught the flu since the start of the flu season; more than 8,200 people have died, including over 50 children. There is still time to get the flu shot this year!
Tips to Avoid Catching ANY virus this cold and flu season
- Wash your hands – sing the A-B-C song or Happy Birthday. Wash with warm soapy water.
- Stay healthy – get adequate rest, exercise and eat healthy food. Don’t push yourself especially if you think you may be coming down with an illness.
- Stay home – don’t go to work or school when you are sick
- Clean and disinfect surfaces – those sick with the flu can spread the virus for up to 7 days after becoming sick.
Most viruses are transmitted through close personal contact and via the air through a cough or sneeze. When an infected person sneezes or coughs in your vicinity you may breathe in the virus. You might also shake their hand, and then you wipe your eyes or nose – bingo – the virus has a new home.
More Tips to Prevent Disease Transmission
- Adopt elbow bumps in lieu of handshakes for the duration of the cold and flu season.
- Cough or sneeze into your elbow or cover your mouth and/or nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
- Use disposable gloves when handling items touched by anyone potentially infected.