Coronavirus 2019-nCoV - Some Basic Information...

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) is closely monitoring an outbreak of a respiratory illness caused by a NEW CORONAVIRUS (named 2019-nCoV). It was first detected in Wuhan City, China - thought to be initially transmitted FROM animal TO person via a large seafood and live animal market in China. NOW, however, the virus can spread from human to human.

 

What EXACTLY is a Corona Virus?

Coronaviruses are a LARGE family of viruses common to MANY animal species such as bats, cats, camels, and cattle. Rarely we have seen animal coronaviruses spread to humans (ie SARS, MERS).

Interestingly, 2019-nCoV (the current "coronavirus") is a betacoronavirus like MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) and SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) - both having origens in bats.  Research has shown that a single emergence of the 2019-nCoV virus from an animal reservoir occured presumptively in the live animal market in China.

The full genome of the 2019-nCoV coronavirus has been sequenced, thus allowing more accurate characterization of the virus in current and newly diagnosed patients.

 

How Does It Spread?

Most often, person-to-person spread occurs among CLOSE CONTACTS (about 6 feet) mainly via respiratory droplets (ie an infected person coughs or sneezes) - similar to how influenza spreads. IF a droplet lands in your mouth, eyes, or nose OR inhaled into your lungs, you may become infected. 

Currently it is UNCLEAR if you can get this virus by touching a surface or object with virus on it and then touching your own mouth, nose or eyes. 

Investigations are ongoing as to how this virus transmits as well as other features of this virus. 

The CDC does NOT feel healthy people need to use a mask - rather the mask is used on those with suspected illness to prevent the spread of the virus. 

 

What is the Situation in the USA?

While imported cases of the 2019-nCoV infection in travelers has been detected in the USA and in close contacts of returned travelers from Wuhan, at THIS time the virus is NOT currently spreading in the US community according to the CDC. 

The USA has implemented significant steps to stem the spread of the virus including suspending entry it the US of foreign nationals who have visited China within the past 14 days, and taking measures to detect this virus among those who are allowed entry into the USA who have been in China within 14 days. 

 

What is the Risk Assessment of the 2019-nCoV Virus?

The potential public health impact from this virus is considered HIGH - both globally and to the United States. It is concerning that this virus has caused illness and death and is shown to be spread person to person. These factors meet two of the criteria of a PANDEMIC. 

Risk is highly dependent on exposure, thus some will have an increased risk of infection - such as healthcare workers and close contacts of 2019-nCoV infected patients.

For the GENERAL AMERICAN PUBLIC - the immediate health risk from this virus is considered LOW (at this time). 

 

What are the Symptoms and Treatment for 2019-nCoV?

LIMITED information is available to characterize the SPECTRUM of clinical illness that may be associated with this virus. There is NO VACCINE nor SPECIFIC TREATMENT for this virus... care is supportive only.

Symptoms that physicians are looking out for include FEVER OR symptoms of LOWER RESPIRATORY ILLNESS such as cough and shortness of breath. Depending on your severity of illness, you can either be admitted to the hospital for supportive care OR sent home to followup with your doctor. 

Diagnostic testing for 2019-nCoV can ONLY be conducted at the CDC - your doctor will obtain both a deep nasal and a back-of-throat swab, AND lower sputum (phlegm) if a productive cough is present. These specimens are then sent physically to the CDC for evaluation.

CDC believes that symptoms can appear in as little as 2 days or as long as 14 days after exposure.

 

FoundationMED Recommendations...

Our recommendations are based on prevention and personal health enhancement... 

Become aware of the need to increase hand washing if exposed to the general public or a potential exposure, using regular (NOT antibacterial) soap and water for several minutes - the hand cleaning foams and other hand gels are not nearly as useful as regular soap and water. 

Focus on your general health and work to optimize it - get appropriate sleep, consume quality food, avoid all processed food, identify and reduce toxins. Give your body the nutrition it needs (minus the toxins) to maintain a strong and healthy immune system. In addition, consuming live culture foods and increased amount and variety of soluble fibers will help strengthen your gut microbiome variety and numbers - essential to strong general health. 

Now would be a good time to work with your physician to make sure your basic labs (ie Vitamin D, Vitamin A, others) are normalized since deficiencies in various basic factors can negatively impact your immune health and make you more susceptible to illness. We have seen many new patients with basic deficiencies in key elements of immune health such as these basic vitamins!

By working to enhance your inner health, you will not only feel better, but your body will be better able to deal with any virus that comes your way...

Author
Michael Citron, MD Michael Citron, MD, is a functional medicine specialist practicing at FoundationMED, located in Raleigh, North Carolina. Dr. Citron has been practicing medicine for over 30 years and is committed to helping patients address the underlying conditions that impact their health. Dr. Citron began to explore how physicians might do better at preventing the need for visits to the emergency room and discovered functional medicine. Now, he focuses his practice on identifying and then eliminating or minimizing the root causes that eventually lead to health problems and the need for reactive health care.

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