February 10th, 2020
The new and emerging coronavirus concern from Wuhan, China is not likely to play a big part in the United States because of our rigorous infection control measures in the hospital settings. Worldwide, previous outbreaks of novel viral related diseases like SARS and MERS spread more rapidly and farther because of poor medical provider infection control measures in the countries of origin.
The coronavirus is in the same family as the common cold but packs a serious punch killing at a rate of 4% for the very elderly or infirmed patient. We need to take this virus very seriously. Those at risk, for now, seem to be isolated to travelers to China. The quarantine period post travel appears to be about 14 days before you can be sure that you are not infected.
The CDC has some excellent advice from their site for potentially exposed individuals:
It spreads as follows: Most often, spread from person-to-person happens among close contacts (about 6 feet). Person-to-person spread is thought to occur mainly via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how influenza and other respiratory pathogens spread. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. It's currently unclear if a person can get 2019-nCoV by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes.
Recently Returned Travelers from China
If you were in China in the last 14 days and feel sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, you should:
• Seek medical care right away. Before you go to a doctor's office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.
• Avoid contact with others.
• Not travel while sick.
• Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
• Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds to avoid spreading the virus to others. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
These basic hygiene principles are good for anyone that is concerned about the symptoms that they have. Read this webpage for more details about quarantines and self care if you are sick.
For now, I recommend that you stay educated and be vigilant for exposure to travelers from China.