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In 2019, the WHO announced the names for the virus responsible for COVID-19 (previously known as “2019 novel coronavirus”) and the disease it causes. The disease is called coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and the virus is called severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).

Viruses and diseases do have different names. People often know the name of a disease, like measles, but not the name of the virus that causes it, which is rubeola. Just as HIV causes AIDS.

Diseases are named to enable discussion on disease prevention, spread, transmissibility, severity and treatment. Human disease preparedness and response is WHO’s role, so diseases are officially named by WHO in the International Classification of Diseases (ICD).

COVID19 and SARSCoV2 are the common social media signatures the WHO is encouraging people use.

While many things are unclear about this new illness, one thing is quite clear. Your overall immune health and personal habits are your best protection from getting sick.

Being afraid of this virus, avoiding social contact or isolating indoors when you are healthy, may in fact be suppressive to your immune system. Happiness and connection are great immune tonics.

Your best course of action to stay healthy? Get enough sleep, wash hands frequently, keep hands away from face and mouth, remind others to cough into their elbows not their hands. 

Until recently, a second criteria of contact or recent travel helped to determine who was at risk: this no longer appears to be the case.

The virus can spread from one person to another, most likely through droplets of saliva or mucus carried in the air for up to six feet. or so when an infected person coughs or sneezes, or through viral particles transferred when shaking hands or sharing a drink with someone who has the virus.

An incubation period is the time between catching an illness and showing symptoms of the illness. Current estimates suggest that symptoms of COVID-19 usually appear within around five days or less in most cases, but the range could be between one and 14 days.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19 (largely a respiratory virus)? 

Symptoms for COVID-19 are similar to colds and flus. Common symptoms are cough, fever, and difficulty breathing.

People may be contagious when experiencing a mild infection, or without showing any symptoms. Other symptoms are similar to flu: fatigue, and possibly nausea and diarrhea.

Face masks may be of limited benefit to those who are coughing. They seem to be of very little benefit for healthy folks, as most do not fit well enough and are not worn and removed correctly. Public Health officials are asking that members of the general public not hoard masks because they are trying to keep them accessible for medical personnel and those who are ill.

If you are sick with cough and fever, you should get tested for COVID-19. If you have questions on whether you should get tested and/or for advice on how to get tested without exposing others, speak to your healthcare provider or your County Health Department.

Currently there is no specific antiviral treatment for this new coronavirus. Treatment is therefore supportive, which means giving fluids, medicine to reduce fever, and, in severe cases, supplemental oxygen. People who become critically ill from COVID-19 may need a respirator to help them breathe. Bacterial infection can complicate this viral infection. Patients may require antibiotics in cases of bacterial pneumonia as well as COVID-19.

Antiviral treatments used for HIV and other compounds are being investigated.

There’s no evidence that supplements, such as vitamin C, or probiotics will help speed recovery. That said, they do boost our immune systems!

Stay well my friends!