Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)
WHAT IS IT?
COVID-19 is a virus causing a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. It was first identified in China and the first case in the United States was reported on January 21.
HOW DOES IT SPREAD?
It is most commonly spread from person to person during close exposure (less than 6 feet), primarily via droplets when the infected person coughs or sneezes although it may be possible by touching the surface or object with the virus on it and then touching once on mouth, nose or eyes.
The highest rate of transmission is when a person has symptoms although there may be some asymptomatic transmission.
Patients with COVID-19 have had anything from mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, cough and shortness of breath.
People at highest risk of having severe disease are those over age 60, with chronic illnesses such as heart or lung disease, diabetes, hypertension, those undergoing cancer treatment or on immune suppressant drugs.
HOW CAN I PROTECT MYSELF?
People can help protect themselves from respiratory illness with every day preventive actions.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- If soap and water is unavailable use at least a 60% alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid handshaking
WHAT DO I DO IF I GET SICK
If you are sick, to keep from spreading the illness, you should
- Stay home when you are sick
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue then throw it away in the trash
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
- Call your medical provider, you will be advised/triaged at that time
WHAT IF I HAVE RECENTLY TRAVELLED TO AN AREA WITH ONGOING COVID-19 SPREAD?
There may be restrictions on your movements for up to 2 weeks. If you develop symptoms call your medical provider. Always call the office before you go and tell them about your travel and your symptoms. You will be given instructions on how to get care without exposing other people to illness.
There is currently no vaccine and no treatment except for supportive.
The most important tools we have are good personal hygiene including handwashing, using tissues and throwing them away, avoiding contact with the sick, and self-quarantine if we develop any symptoms. Most people have a mild, self-resolving illness.
For more information go to www.cdc.gov/COVID19 or www.dshs.texas.gov/coronavirus
Do not panic, hand wash and stay well!