Month: February 2020

What is the Coronavirus? Get Answers Here


27 February 2020

Hi, thank you for coming back for the latest edition of Beyond Primary Cares blog; where I highlight healthy and fun recipes, healthcare news, advice for medical conditions, as well as how membership for care works! Dr. Jeff O’Boyle is the owner of Beyond Primary Care, which is an insurance free, membership based family medicine and addiction medicine clinic. Beyond Primary Care is the only Direct Care clinic serving patients in Ann Arbor and throughout Washtenaw, Livingston, and Wayne County giving families and employers peace of mind with healthcare costs by providing affordable, accessible, and authentic primary care services.

The primary purpose of the blog is to introduce healthy lifestyle concepts and answer common questions I receive from patients that I believe are important. I want to start discussions that will help educate, benefit, and improve your well-being. 

In this blog post, I wanted to talk about the coronavirus, what it is, how is it spread, what are symptoms, and how to protect yourself.

What is the Coronavirus?

Coronaviruses represent a large group of viruses, not just one we are hearing about in the news and media lately. These Coronaviruses are categorized as “Zoonotic diseases,” meaning they are transmitted between animals and people. The Coronavirus this blog is referencing (COVID-19) initially occurred in an animal or seafood market in the city of Wuhan, China. The disease has since spread throughout China and to a number of other countries.

On the ‘skin’ of the Coronavirus are a huge number of spikes (proteins) that give it the appearance of a ‘crown.’ Crown in latin = Corona. Just like the Human Papillomavirus (HPV), which is the causative agent such as non life-threatening conditions like foot (plantar) warts or very dangerous conditions such as cervical cancer, there are many subtypes of Coronavirus. 

Think of subtypes like the seasoning, basil. There is cinnamon basil, Greek basil, lemon basil, well- you get the point.

Some of the subtypes cause respiratory illnesses as minor as the common cold, while others cause pneumonia. These tend to be mild. However, just like HPV, there are some types of Coronavirus that can cause severe disease, such at the China 2019 Novel Coronavirus. This new Coronavirus being spread has not been previously identified in humans.

Situation in the United States

There are 59 total cases of the China 2019 Novel Coronavirus. Eight U.S states have confirmed cases including Massachusetts, California, Washington, Arizona, Texas, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Nebraska. 57 cases have been diagnosed as a result of travel or being evacuated from high-risk countries. 2 cases are believe to have spread person to person within the U.S.

Being present on public transport areas is a major risk factor for transmission. This Coronavirus appears to be spreading easily in China, but not as much in the United States.

The Centers of Disease Control (CDC) states to prepare for the ‘inevitable’ spread of the coronavirus within the United States. 

The CDC calls this Coronavirus “a serious public health concern.” 

The City of San Francisco, despite not having any confirmed cases of the Coronavirus, has declared a local emergency because it is a major travel connection hub. 

How is the Coronavirus spread?

The exact mechanism (as of publication of this blog post) has yet to be discovered. In general, it is thought respiratory droplets – such as what comes out your nose or mouth when you cough or sneeze- or objects that have been contaminated with the virus, are the source of the Coronavirus. 

How does the Coronavirus present?

A number of symptoms can present ranging from mild to severe. Symptoms typically take between 1 and 14 days to appear once the virus is contracted. Mild symptoms include fever (anything over 100.4F), cough, body aches, fatigue, sore throat, cough, and shortness of breath. Severe symptoms include pneumonia, kidney failure, and even death. 

Currently, the only means of diagnosis is testing through a technique called Reverse Transcription-Polymerase Chain Reaction tests that can diagnose the Coronavirus from respiratory samples. This test is currently not available at any outpatient clinics in the United States.

These tests are only at selected U.S. States and local public health laboratories, Department of Defense (DOD) laboratories, and some international laboratories. 

Protect Yourself

Currently there is no specific medication to combat the Coronavirus. Additionally, there is yet to be a vaccine- although these are in development. Treatment if someone is infected is supportive care.

A number of hygiene practices to help prevent the spread of the Coronavirus include covering your mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing (such as the vampire cough depicted above), washing your hands with soap and water frequently, and wearing masks if you could have the virus or around other people you care for who may have the virus.