Copy Editor/ Staff Writer
The 2019-2020 flu season kicked off earlier than usual in 2020 with the current strain of Influenza B going around. While the flu is still the main concern of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, currently there is a new form of Coronavirus that has appeared in China and is spreading faster than expected.
This new strain named 2019-nCoV or the Novel Coronavirus presented itself in Wuhan, China at a fish market. The symptoms present as fever, pneumonia, breathing difficulty and diarrhea and now is known to be spread from human interactions. A coronavirus presents itself much like the flu or the common cold and can be spread through both animals and humans. The species that provides a host for a viral contagion is called a vector.
The cities of Wuhan and Huanggang are now under quarantine in order to reduce travel and spread of the disease, which has already spread to Thailand, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, and one case in the U.S. Airports are screening passengers coming from the region for fever symptoms as far as Nigeria and Moscow, Russia in order to contain the virus.
Currently, there is debate amongst members of the World Health Organization as to treating the virus as an international health risk based on how fast the virus is spreading. As of now, there are more than 600 confirmed cases and 17 deaths associated with this virus. The incubation rate, or how long it takes for viral symptoms to be noticeable, is very low at the moment. If someone has the virus they could be walking around for days not knowing they have it.
For the remainder of this article, I would like to highlight some disease prevention tips. These tips should be taken especially seriously for children, the elderly, and people with compromised immune systems as many viruses can have a heightened and even fatal effect on these demographics.
Stay at home: It’s hard to avoid people during our day-to-day commutes to work, school, sports practice or club activities. Be wary if someone says they are sick. Many times people can’t afford to take a day off of work and school or understate their condition, “It’s just a little cough.” could mean anything. If someone is sick they should seek medical help whether it be a primary care physician or urgent care.
If someone is sick, they should not go to school or work, this can spread the contagion to other members of those establishments. The number of public objects someone touches is almost uncountable when they are busy and even do it unconsciously.
Practice good hand-washing hygiene: People should wash their hands with soap and hot water often, making sure to get in-between fingers, scrubbing fingernails and fingertips and drying with a paper towel. Automatic hand dryers create a cesspool of bacteria in and around the unit. This should be done after extensive contact with people, before and/or after someone eats and after using the restroom. This will help cut down on foreign particles spreading from person to person.
It is also wise to invest in travel-sized bottles of alcohol-based hand sanitizer for times one may not be able to wash their hands. It may not be better than hand-washing, but some protection is better than none.
Controlling the Spread of Germs: When someone coughs or sneezes, this can spread germs faster than wildfire. A cough or sneeze can produce microdroplets that can spread as far away as six feet! When someone coughs or sneezes, they should do so into the inside of their elbows rather than their hands. People shake hands, not elbows. Besides this, workstations that are used frequently should be wiped down daily with an antibacterial wipe.
Good general hygiene is another concern that can reduce the spread of disease. During major disease seasons and events like as of recent, it is good to be conscious about mass gatherings, public places, and facilities so people can adopt these practices more easily.
Lastly, people need to be conscious and aware of these subjects, they need to stay updated on what is going on with the flu season and other viruses that may be lurking, waiting for a chance to spread.
For more information on this flu season, disease prevention tips, or updates on the coronavirus, people can visit the Centers or Disease Control and Prevention’s website at www.cdc.gov or the World Health Organization’s website at http://www.who.int.