What you need to know about the coronavirus

With all the news reports about a big new disease outbreak spreading in China, you may be looking for answers. In fact, you may be feeling a little freaked out. Malheur County Health Department is here to help. Our Communicable Disease nurses have notified medical providers across the county with information on how to screen and test people who may have been infected.

First off and foremost, if you live in the U.S., there’s no need to be alarmed. While there are estimated to be thousands of cases in China — mainly in Hubei province and its capital city, Wuhan, which is located in the eastern part of the country — there have been only about a handful in America. All of the U.S. patients have traveled to China, and it’s not being spread here.

The disease, which for now is being called the 2019 novel coronavirus, is in the same family as the common cold. Symptoms may include fever, cough and difficulty breathing. In severe cases, people have died, with at least 80 deaths reported in China.

Here in the U.S., doctors, hospital workers and other health professionals are on high alert for the disease. People who are sick in the U.S. can be isolated in hospitals to help prevent spread of the disease.

So why all the hullaballoo on TV and online? Part of the reason is that the 2019 novel coronavirus is a new disease that hasn’t been seen in humans before. So health officials want to find out more.

More cases of 2019 novel coronavirus are expected to be reported in the U.S. in coming days and weeks. And it may be spread between people here at some point. In the past, health workers who are caring for sick people have been at high risk for such infections.

So you may be asking, “What does this mean for me?” Good question. In short, the risk to you and the rest of the U.S. general public is low. In fact, it’s much more likely that you’ll get the flu, which is estimated to have sickened 15 million and killed about 8,800 people since September in the U.S. alone.

See our press release HERE about flu in Malheur County. Remember, it’s not too late to get your flu shot!

Bottom line: To stay safe, keep doing what you’re supposed to do to prevent getting sick from a cold.  That includes:
• washing your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds;
• avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands;
• staying out of close contact with people who might be sick; and
• cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces.

And remember, if you’re sick with a cold or flu, stay home!

To learn more about the 2019 novel coronavirus, check out this info from CDC, which is being updated as more details are known.

Adapted from Get Ready Blog

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