COVID-19 (patient information)
COVID-19 On the Web
Synonyms and Keywords: Novel coronavirus, covid-19, COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, Wuhan coronavirus
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. The virus that causes COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus called SARS CoV-2 that was first identified during an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China. Coronavirus is a genus of animal virus belonging to the family Coronaviridae. Coronavirus, named due to the "crown" like appearance of its surface projections, was first isolated from chickens in 1937. In 1965, Tyrrell and Bynoe used cultures of human ciliated embryonal trachea to propagate the first human coronavirus (HCoV) in vitro. There are now approximately 15 species in this family, which infect not only humans but cattle, pigs, rodents, cats, dogs and birds (some are serious veterinary pathogens, especially chickens). Coronavirus gained international popularity after the deadly SARS epidemic caused by SARS-CoV in 2002 - 2003. A novel coronavirus known as the MERS-CoV was the highlight of the year 2012 when it caused the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) epidemic. 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is a virus identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China. Based on the grouping, coronavirus can be classified into three groups. It can also be classified into families based on the genome and the method of replication. The virus can also be classified based on human infectivity.
For confirmed 2019-nCoV infections, reported illnesses have ranged from people with little to no symptoms to people being severely ill and dying. Symptoms can include:
How does COVID-19 spread?
The virus that causes COVID-19 probably emerged from an animal source, but is now spreading from person to person. The virus is thought to spread mainly 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. It also 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.
What are severe complications from this virus?
How can I help protect myself?
People can help protect themselves from respiratory illness with everyday preventive actions.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
What should I do if I recently traveled from an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19?
If you have traveled from an affected area, there may be restrictions on your movements for up to 2 weeks. If you develop symptoms during that period (fever, cough, trouble breathing), seek medical advice. Call the office of your health care provider before you go, and tell them about your travel and your symptoms. They will give you instructions on how to get care without exposing other people to your illness. While sick, avoid contact with people, don’t go out and delay any travel to reduce the possibility of spreading illness to others.
Who is at the Highest Risk?
The following individuals may be at high risk for contacting coronavirus infection:
- Close contacts of infected humans or animals
- Healthcare workers
- Immunocompromised individiuals
- Patients on immunosupressive therapy
- Patients with compromised respiratory system
- Your healthcare provider may order laboratory tests on respiratory specimens and serum (part of your blood) to detect human coronaviruses. Laboratory testing is more likely to be used if you have severe disease or are suspected of having COVID-19.
- If you are experiencing symptoms, you should tell your healthcare provider about any recent travel or contact with animals. A contact history with an infected individual along with recent development of signs and symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 may suggest diagnosis.
When to Seek Urgent Medical Care?
- if you are sick with COVID-19 or suspect you are infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, you should take steps to help prevent the disease from spreading to people in your home and community.
- If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop a fever and symptoms, such as cough or difficulty breathing, dizziness, extreme fatigue call your healthcare provider for medical advice.
Treatment of coronavirus infection is limited to supportive measures and prevention of development of acute respiratory distress syndrome, which may require artificial ventilation support. Quarantine and social distancing prevent spread of the disease.