By Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna
Much is unknown about how 2019-nCoV, a new coronavirus, spreads. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats. 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.
Signs and symptoms of this illness include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. This novel coronavirus has the potential to cause severe disease and death. Available information suggests that older adults and people with underlying health conditions or compromised immune systems may be at increased risk of severe disease.
There is currently no vaccine to prevent 2019-nCoV infection. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
First responders such as Firefighters, Paramedics, EMT’s, Police Officers are at a higher risk of exposure than the general public. The IAFF has developed a resource for responding to patients who may have been exposed to 2019-n-CoV. This resource provides basic information specifically about 2019-n-CoV, including signs and symptoms and standard precautions and protocols for response and exposure.
There are lots of illnesses going around right now, ranging from simple colds to mores serious disease such as influenza and pneumonia. So, with all of the news about Coronavirus out there, a number of sick folks are coming in wondering whether it’s possible they could have this new, potentially deadly virus.
If you get sick, contact your physician to ensure you know the difference between the flu and Corona Virus.