What is the coronavirus (COVID-19)?
We’ve dealt with the family of coronaviruses for many years as they are responsible for typical common cold symptoms. We previously referred to it as the novel, or new, coronavirus (2019-nCoV). The disease that you contract from the virus is referred to as COVID-19; a disease from the year 2019. Scientists have now re-classified the novel coronavirus as a type of SARS, which stands for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).
The WHO has identified this as a type of zoonotic infection that has crossed over into the human species. This is referred to as a spillover event and is a known phenomenon. This last happened in 2012 with MERS-CoV, when a spillover came from dromedary camels. So… where did SARS-CoV-2 come from? When virologists look into identifying the source of an infection, they look at it’s genetic makeup. This helps tell virologists what geographic area, or from what species of animal the virus originated. SARS-CoV-2 has been identified to have a similar genetic makeup to viruses that are prevalent in bats and from an area in Asia. This virus in particular is believed to have originated in Wuhan, China.
How long does it take for you to show signs of COVID19 after being exposed?
On average, most people who have contracted the virus will show symptoms 4-5 days after exposure, although there have been some cases documented as early as two days, and as late as 14 days.
What are the common signs and symptoms? 
- 50% – Cough
- 43% – Fever (subjective or >100.4°F/38°C) i
- 36 % – Muscle Aches and Pains
- 34% – Headache
- 29% – Shortness of breath
- 20% – Sore throat
- 19% – Diarrhea
- 12% – Nausea and vomitting
- < 10% – loss of smell, taste, abdominal pain and runny nose
Other important statistics:
- 81% have mild or no pneumonia
- 14% have severe disease with shortness of breath, low oxygen levels and more than 50% lung involvement seen on imaginge (CAT scan)
- 5% have critical disease, which includes shock, multi-organ failure and respiratory failure
- 2.3% fatality rate with all deaths having “critical disease”
Can you have the infection and not even know it?
There’s been a lot of talk about what we call “asymptomatic spread”, meaning you have the disease and do not have any symptoms, thereby spreading the virus to others unknowingly. There’s a lot of factors that come into play when considering if and how this is possible. We do know that the virus is detectable for days prior to any symptoms starting, and that is most likely when someone is the most infectious.
This was learned by looking at a break-out in a long term care facility. Many individuals were swab positive and without symptoms for up to six days. Currently, it is believed to be relatively uncommon that this happens and is estimated to be about 6% of those asymptomatically infected are transmitting to others, and maybe about 15% of those who are in close contact, like house-hold members.
Who is at risk of contracting the illness, and from what settings?
Currently most infections come from people who are in close contact with others and for prolonged periods of time, like household contacts, healthcare settings, prisons, cruise ships, nursing homes and long-term care facilities. However, there are documented cases of transmission through non-household contacts like work or social group gatherings. The risk of contracting the virus by passing someone, or handling something they have handled is not well documented and is likely relatively low.
Picking up the virus and becoming infected with it from inanimate objects seems to be a lot lower than originally thought. This is why washing your hands and not touching your face- specifically your mucous membranes in your mouth, eyes and nose are very important. It is believed that this risk is the greatest in households, hospitals, and long-term care facilities where there is a high viral load concentration on objects and surfaces. We know the virus is very susceptible to heat and UV light and only lasts about 15-20 minutes outside and that it can be easily killed in one minutes’ time using appropriate disinfectants. We also know that the amount of time it lives on surfaces depends on the size of the virus particle, the humidity and temperature outside.
Stay tuned for parts 2 and 3!
- What workplaces are at the highest risk?
- What kind of safety controls should you establish to limit disease exposure and spread?
- Who should wear masks?
- Who qualifies for testing or screening?
- Where should you go to get tested or screened?
- What are antibody tests and when (if ever) should you get one?
- What is a virutal screening and is it effective?
- Who should using virtual screenings?
About LoginClinics- Founded by Jaclyn Qualter, a nurse practitioner and health care mentor, in September 2019, LoginClinics provides its fee schedule on its website at www.LoginClinics.com along with FAQs on how to use the online service. More information can be found on its social media www.facebook.com/TelemedicineNC or @loginclinics on Instagram.
Author: Jaclyn Qualter, Founder, Nurse Practitioner and Healthcare Mentor