There has been much in the news in the past few weeks regarding an outbreak of illness in Wuhan, China, known as “novel coronavirus,” officially coined “2019-nCoV.” Thought to have originated at a “wet market” in Wuhan called The Huanan Seafood Market, the virus in question—which mirrors pneumonia in terms of symptoms—is responsible for over 900 infections and at least 26 deaths in the region, all in a remarkably short span of time.
As global travel from China is common, the risk of novel coronavirus spreading to the west is undeniable; cases have already been identified in Europe and the United States, and the CDC is recommending against all cases of nonessential travel to Wuhan. Though cases of coronavirus have not yet been identified in New England, we want our patients to know that the clinical teams at every ConvenientMD location in New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Maine are fully informed and prepared should the virus make its way to our part of the country.
What is Coronavirus?
Coronavirus is actually one of many viruses which fall within the category of zoonotic diseases, meaning they are capable of spreading from animals to people. Many people likely remember the 2003 outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which lasted for approximately six months and originated from bats that had infected other animals before eventually transmitting the virus to humans. 2019-nCoV—the coronavirus of concern today—is thought to have originated in Wuhan under similar circumstances.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Coronavirus?
At ConvenientMD, we have instructed all of our medical team leaders on the epidemiological risks and clinical features of 2019-nCoV. That said, we also believe that empowering our patients to understand which factors may point to coronavirus can help to prevent communal and state-wide health episodes from occurring. As of right now, the CDC has identified a combination of symptoms of fever and lower respiratory illness (e.g., cough, difficulty breathing)—along with travel from Wuhan City, China in the 14 days before symptom onset—as elevated risk factors for 2019-nCoV.
Note that those who believe they may have been in contact with someone who has shown symptoms and recently traveled from Wuhan City may also be at risk and should pay close attention to the potential onset of symptoms.
What Should I Do If I Think I am Sick?
As CDC recommendations for handling cases of 2019-nCoV infection remain in an interim phase, protocol for identifying infection currently includes testing for respiratory pathogens and performing a thorough physical examination of the patient. It should be noted once again that while novel coronavirus has yet to be seen in New England, all clinical staff members at ConvenientMD are aware of what to look for in order to identify patients that may potentially test positive for the virus.
If you suspect that you may be infected with the novel coronovirus, you should go to your local emergency department for testing. If you are unsure, and you are concerned about yourself or a family member who is sick, just walk into any of our clinics in New Hampshire, Maine or Massachusetts to be seen by one of our expert treating providers, and we can help put your mind at ease about what is causing your symptoms.