By Rahmi Mowjood, DO, FACOFP
Recently a patient in our Upland office inquired about vaccinations for travel. She informed me that she was going to Florida, and she wanted all possible vaccines she could get!
Other than the flu vaccination, I told her she should be just fine.
“But what about the coronavirus?”
What about the coronavirus, indeed?
This particular strain from the common coronavirus family, dubbed COVID-19, has been making headlines and TV sound bites due to its novel exposure to humans as well as its increased infection and unfortunate mortality figures worldwide.
The patient’s question is relevant. Sooner or later, this possible exposure may become a reality.
Prevention is straightforward at this point — consistent and persistent hand-washing and use of hand sanitizer liberally to help reduce transmission.
Just like any viral illness, close contact with anyone exhibiting symptoms increases your chances of picking up the same illness.
From the American Academy of Family Physicians, “CDC guidelines indicate if a patient has been in close contact with a confirmed case and presents with a cough or cold-type symptoms, or any type of respiratory symptoms, they would be considered a patient under investigation.”
In this case, the first step towards prevention is to avoid contact with anyone who has a possible exposure.
This also leads to another important point, which is to make sure you are vaccinated against the flu.
Coronavirus infections start out similar to flu infections, so it is important to safeguard yourself from the flu, using the same hand washing and avoidance precautions, but also by getting your annual flu inoculation.
Remember that the flu virus is also deadly and has been for a much longer period of time compared to COVID-19.
The CDC estimates that influenza has resulted in between 9 million to 45 million illnesses; between 140,000 to 810,000 hospitalizations; and between 12,000 to 61,000 deaths annually since 2010.
This is a significant public health concern that we face annually. While COVID-19 is currently in the news, influenza is always lurking in the air.
To that end, I would recommend a common sense approach to the coronavirus.
- Reduce your exposure
- Wash your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds each time
- Routinely clean commonly touched surfaces
- Limit contacts with anyone exhibiting any flu-like symptoms
- Maximize your health and immune system by being healthy and getting your flu shot.
And if you are sick, chances are right now it’s most likely the flu, so please stay home, to reduce exposure to others.