Description of Coronaviruses
COVID-19: ‘CO’ stands for ‘corona,’ ‘VI’ for ‘virus,’ and ‘D’ for disease, 19 for 2019 when the disease first appeared. Thus COVID-19 is corona virus disease from 2019. The virus that causes COVID-19 is a SARS like virus named SARS-CoV-2. The original SARS or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome was first discovered in China in February, 2003 and was associated with cases of severe pneumonia.
Most everyone has had coronavirus infection in the past. Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that can infect humans and animals. There are seven known types of human coronaviruses. Four of the seven types (229E, NL63, OC43, and KHU1) are quite common, have been present for a long time, and cause what amounts to the common cold. Rarely, they make people sick enough to be hospitalized. In certain times of the year these four types of usual coronaviruses can cause up to 33% of the respiratory infections in our population.
Two more types, SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) coronavirus (SARS-CoV) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), may cause more severe respiratory infections. They are more recent coronaviruses which have appeared. The seventh type, SARS-CoV-2 (which causes COVID-19) is a newly discovered coronavirus, which was first reported in Wuhan, China in December, 2019. Where did the three most recent coronaviruses come from? Short answer: it is thought from animals. This is a disease category called zoonosis. Some coronaviruses that infect only animals and not humans may evolve and change their genetic makeup. It is currently thought that the three recent examples of coronaviruses that may make humans more ill may have undergone this recent evolution and now cause human disease.
Symptoms of COVID-19 infection
COVID-19 symptoms have ranged from no symptoms (asymptomatic) to mild illness to severe illness and even death. The following symptoms may appear 2-14 days (5 days on average) after exposure and are considered high risk for COVID-19:
• Cough, usually dry
• Difficulty breathing (Shortness of breath)
• Loss of taste and smell
COVID-19 also has other more low risk, general symptoms that may or may not be associated with a corona virus infection:
• Fever (100.4 and higher)
• Congestion and runny nose
• Sore throat
• Nausea, vomiting and or diarrhea
• Fatigue, muscle aches, body aches
One high risk symptom or two or more low risk symptoms should prompt concern for COVID-19. Call our office at (501) 224-5437 to discuss needed testing for COVID-19 should this happen in your child. We are now doing COVID-19 testing at our office. We are using the Abbott ID Now testing platform. This is an accurate molecular test which is used primarily for people who are sick with Coronavirus. We can also arrange for an even more accurate PCR type test at Arkansas Children’s Hospital for people who are exposed and yet have no symptoms.
Do not come to our office with concerns about possible corona virus infection without calling ahead and planning your evaluation! A nurse will be screening all visitors at the front door of our clinic to control the spread of this disease. We are testing for corona virus in our parking lot near our front door. Call to arrange this testing beforehand.
Treatment of COVID-19 infection
If you or your child is diagnosed with COVID-19 follow the CDC’s guidance on treatment. Almost all cases of COVID-19 in children are mild and can be treated at home with common cold treatment and quarantine. Click on the links above for details. Of course, monitor your child, if symptoms worsen, go to Arkansas Children’s Hospital emergency room where critical respiratory treatment is available.
COVID-19 and School Attendance
A very helpful school attendance decision tool was recently published:
How is COVID-19 spread (CDC website)
1. The virus is thought to spread from person-to-person.
- Between people who are in close contact with one another within about 6 feet.
- Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. It is particularly contagious when someone makes an aerosol of the virus (big cough or sneeze, surgical and dental procedures or respiratory treatments and tests).
2. Spread from contact with contaminated surfaces or objects. It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
Can someone spread the virus without being sick? Yes, this is possibly true especially with children who may be contagious for the virus and yet have no symptoms. People are thought to be most contagious when they are the sickest, however.
How to protect your family
There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19, but there are a few things you can do to keep your family healthy:
- Wear a mask when in all public places.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer.
- When in public spaces, always view your hands as contaminated unless you have just washed them or put hand sanitizer on them.
- Avoid touching your face unless you have just washed your hands or used hand sanitizer; teach your children to do the same.
- Keep your kids away from others who are sick and keep them home if they are ill.
- If you are ill, don’t go to work and stay away from others.
- Teach kids to cough and sneeze into a tissue (make sure to throw it away after each use!) or to cough and sneeze into their arm or elbow, not their hands.
- Clean and disinfect your home using regular household cleaning sprays or wipes.
- Avoid travel.
- Stay home as much as possible.
Here are some helpful links about COVID-19:
updated by Jerry Byrum MD 11/10/2020