Helpful Information on Coronaviruses

As you may have heard in health-related news, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is closely monitoring an outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a new coronavirus (2019-nCoV) first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China.

There are several strains of coronaviruses that can infect humans throughout the year. These typical coronaviruses generally cause mild to moderate cold-like symptoms. In past years, human coronaviruses MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV appeared and were known to cause more severe symptoms.

Generally, when a person becomes infected with a virus, symptoms, and severity can be dependent on individual health status. Currently, the CDC is working to understand the transmissibility, severity, and other features that might be associated with this new virus. 

Recommended Preventive Actions

There is currently no vaccine to prevent 2019-nCoV infection. As this is a respiratory illness, and in North America and many parts of Europe, we are in the middle of cold and influenza season, it is always good to follow everyday respiratory hygiene practices, as outlined by the CDC:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Stay home when you are sick
  • Cover your cough or sneeze
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces

Currently, the cases that have been identified have been associated with travel to Wuhan, China. If you think you may have been exposed to the 2019-nCoV contact your healthcare provider immediately.

Learn More about Coronavirus 

The CDC has published guidance and resources for travelers, healthcare professionals, laboratories and travelers on their website and will be hosting a webinar on January 27,  Understanding the Coronavirus, to discuss the impact of this outbreak. 

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About the Author

Roberta Smith, MSPH, RN, CIC, CIH, COHN-S

Roberta Smith MSPH, RN, CIH, COHN-S, CIC has spent her career exploring the many facets of public health. She has over 20 years of experience in the fields of public health, occupational health, industrial hygiene, safety, and infection control. She holds Bachelor of Science degrees in Environmental Health and Nursing. She holds a Master of Science degree in Public Health and certifications in infection control, occupational health nursing, and industrial hygiene. She currently is the Director of Worker Health for Cority Axion Health. In this role, she leads the review of the clinical content and protocols offered to occupational health clients to ensure compliance with applicable laws and best practices. She is active in both the national and local chapters of the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) in the Healthcare, Leading Health Metrics, and Teen Workplace Safety subcommittees. She received the AIHA Outstanding Project Team Award in 2018 and 2019 for her leadership of the AIHA Healthcare Working Group Infection Control Subcommittee.

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