You’ve likely heard about the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) that originated in China late last year. The first case in the United States was reported at Providence Regional Medical Center-Everett last week. Coronaviruses are the cause of roughly 10% of all common colds.
This particular strain, however, is more dangerous than a common cold. Symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Symptoms can appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure. While we are still analyzing exactly how this virus is transmitted, it appears that person to person spread happens mainly via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how influenza is transmitted.
If you have travelled to, or have been in close contact with, someone who has travelled to China and you develop fever, cough, or shortness of breath, call 911 or your doctor’s office. Before going to the doctor’s office or hospital please call ahead and tell them that you may have 2019-nCoV. Avoid contact with others, do not leave your home except for medical care, and wear a face mask.
It is important to remember that the immediate health risk the the general public is low at this time, but you should always be vigilant in the prevention of diseases like 2019-nCoV and influenza. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing. And as always, wash your hands with soap and water often.