Wondering if you should be taking more precautions to protect your family from Coronavirus? Don’t want to be an alarmist? But want to take care of your children? Maybe you’re wondering why they named a really shitty virus after a vacation cocktail. Yes, I’d like an ice-cold coronavirus, add lime. Not funny, right? Let’s just talk plainly, what the hell is coronavirus and what should every mom know about it.
Now, while I’m not raiding my local stores of all the cleaning supplies, I am keeping my pantry stocked with Lysol, Clorox wipes, hand sanitizer and toilet paper but I do that all the time anyway. I’m not buying a year’s worth but with 4 people who seem to catch everything that goes around living in the house, we’re always stocked just in case. While I’m not one for screaming the proverbial fire in a crowded theater, I’m also a realist and the fact is that Coronavirus exists and it does not discriminate.
However, being immunosuppressed with an immunosuppressed child, I’m also not taking any unnecessary risks. We won’t be using public transportation; planes, trains, and buses are not on our to-do list. We’re also not going to be going to any large crowded venues if we can avoid it. I’m also considering taking advantage of pick-up for groceries and necessities rather than being in the stores until some of the flu strains and viruses going around are not going around as much.
Here is what I’ve found out and what every mom should know about the coronavirus!
What is the coronavirus?
Coronaviruses (CoV) is not new. They’re a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). The issue with the current novel coronavirus is that it’s a new strain and is zoonotic, meaning it can be transmitted between animals and people. The strains that typically infect humans generally cause symptoms that are no more severe than the common cold. However, sometimes a rogue coronavirus jumps from animals to humans and is more severe than typical.
This new coronavirus is spreading quickly throughout the world and we’re all on edge, especially parents because we’re worried about our children. At last count, more than 92,000 known people have contracted Coronavirus and at least 3,000 people have died since an outbreak began in December in Wuhan, China. While most confirmed cases are still in China, the coronavirus has since spread to at least 71 countries, with at least 100 recorded cases and at least six deaths in the United States.
Previously, the bulk of the cases in the United States were connected to the Diamond Princess cruise ship that was docked in Japan after it was revealed that some guests onboard tested positive for coronavirus. But a growing number of those diagnosed have happened after contact with an infected person or after no known connection to previous cases, suggesting that the virus is spreading among communities. The outbreak is on the verge of being a pandemic if it can’t be contained.
Symptoms of the Coronavirus that Moms should be aware of
- Common signs of infection include
- Respiratory symptoms
- Shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.
- In more severe cases, an infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.
How to stop the spread of Coronavirus
Standard recommendations to prevent infection spread include regular hand washing, covering mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, thoroughly cooking meat and eggs. Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.
To reduce exposure to and transmission of a range of illnesses in the general public do as follows, which include hand and respiratory hygiene, and safe food practices:
- Frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water;
- When coughing and sneezing cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue – throw tissues away immediately and wash hands;
- Avoid close contact with anyone who has a fever and cough;
- If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing seek medical care early and share previous travel history with your health care provider;
- When visiting live markets in areas currently experiencing cases of novel coronavirus, avoid direct unprotected contact with live animals and surfaces in contact with animals;
- The consumption of raw or undercooked animal products should be avoided. Raw meat, milk or animal organs should be handled with care, to avoid cross-contamination with uncooked foods, as per good food safety practices.
Why are experts so concerned about this new coronavirus?
This is a new illness that doctors have never seen before so there’s still a lot to learn about how it’s transmitted and how it will affect everyone.
The virus is contagious, even before symptoms appear.
The CDC believes the new virus is contagious during the incubation period, which is believed to be 14 days, and symptoms can appear anytime between two and 14 days after exposure. Chinese officials reported person-to-person transmission as the virus spreads. The CDC also has confirmed person-to-person transmission in the U.S.
- The 2019 novel coronavirus may be mild but, in some cases, can be very serious
“As with a cold, there is no vaccine for the coronavirus and a flu vaccine won’t protect people from developing it. Washing hands especially after eating, going to the bathroom, and touching your face and avoiding other people who have flu-like symptoms are the best strategies at this point.”
- There’s a lot that we don’t know, so precautions are extremely important
Given that the symptoms tend to be mild and the number of people infected worldwide remains small, you may wonder why so much attention is being paid to this particular illness. Extreme caution is warranted because of how little is known about this new virus. For now, spreading awareness, keeping people updated as scientists learn more, and screening people who might be at risk are the best tools available. If you travel or if you visit a health care provider or facility, it may be helpful to know that the coronavirus-related signs you see and questions you may be asked are important.
- Guidelines will evolve as doctors learn more
The CDC advises people who travel anywhere, locally or internationally, to:
- Avoid contact with sick people
- Avoid animals, whether they are dead or alive, as well as animal markets, and animal products
- Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
What to do if you think you may have been exposed
Anyone who has traveled to Wuhan and is experiencing fever or respiratory symptoms should:
Seek medical care immediately. Call ahead to their doctor or emergency room to let them know about recent travel and symptoms.
Avoid contact with others
Avoid travel if they are sick
Cover their mouth and nose with a tissue or sleeve (not hands) if they must cough or sneeze
Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
The virus can be spread from animals to people. But it also can be spread by coughing, sneezing and through close contact with an infected person or an object carrying the virus. Experts are still figuring out how long an infected person is contagious as they try to determine a point of transmission.
How different is it from the common cold or flu?
Coronavirus infections, in general, are indistinguishable from other respiratory infections. In most cases, they cause a runny nose, cough, sore throat, fatigue and fever. But with the new coronavirus, patients tend to have a fever, cough and shortness of breath.
Do I need to stockpile face masks?
“You can increase your risk of getting it by wearing a mask if you are not a health care provider,” US Surgeon General Jerome Adams said. “Folks who don’t know how to wear them properly tend to touch their faces a lot and actually can increase the spread of coronavirus.”
The C.D.C. recommends that only infected patients and their health care providers wear N95 respirator masks, which are a special type of mask intended to filter out 95 percent of airborne particles. When physicians treat a person infected with the disease caused by the virus, they wear “a face shield, gown and gloves.
Standard surgical masks also can’t fully protect you from contracting the virus.
Should parents be worried?
Right now, no. Be cautious but not crazy. Cases in children have been very rare. Most people infected with coronavirus are between 49 and 56 years old. It appears that when kids do get it, they have milder symptoms. Flu is killing a lot more Americans, including children, but flu is the monster we know.
What steps should parents take to protect their child from Coronavirus?
You should take the same precautions you would take to protect your child from the common cold or flu.
- Encourage children to wash their hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can work if that’s all you got, but they’re generally not as effective as soap and hot water.
- Hands should be washed before children eat, after they use the bathroom, come inside from outdoors or touch something dirty like garbage.
- If you see someone coughing or sneezing, try to keep your kids as far away from them as possible. It’s believed that respiratory secretions don’t travel more than six feet.
- Travel is also fine but use common sense and caution. For the most part, domestic trips and even most international ones are still OK. Check the CDC guidelines before you plan a trip. If you’re planning a cruise for spring break, the C.D.C. urges you to avoid ones that travel to or from Asia. Personally, as much as I love cruising, it’s a stew of germs in the best conditions.
If there is an outbreak in your town, you should practice what’s known as social distancing. That means staying at home, rather than going out and about to movies, sports events and other activities. Schools could close, at least temporarily, and people who can work from home will be encouraged to do so.
For now, if you and your kids still haven’t gotten a flu shot, get one.
I’m pregnant. Should I be concerned about Coronavirus?
Yes, but no more than you would be about coming down with the flu. During pregnancy, your immune system can be depressed, which makes you more susceptible to complications from viruses like the flu and chickenpox.
There isn’t much information on how the new coronavirus affects pregnancies, though preliminary research suggests it isn’t likely to be transmitted from a mother to her baby through the womb. A study that followed nine pregnant women who were infected in Wuhan found that all of the newborns, who were delivered via cesarean section, tested negative for the coronavirus, and there were no traces of the virus in the mother’s amniotic fluid, cord blood or breast milk.
The C.D.C. does caution that it has observed miscarriage and stillbirth in pregnant women infected with other related coronaviruses (SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV). A high fever during the first trimester of pregnancy which can happen after infection with the new coronavirus and with illnesses such as a cold or flu can also increase the risk of certain birth defects.
Let me be honest with you, mom to mom, I’m not a doctor. This is just a lot of research that I found by scouring the internet. The truth is none of us want our children to catch something that we know so little about but panic is not the way to protect ourselves. In reality, I think there are probably a lot more cases we don’t know about because symptoms are mild and comparable to the viruses that we’re used to. Most cases will probably go undiagnosed. My advice is to be cautious. Practice good hygiene. Don’t take unnecessary risks. Take care of your health and maybe spend more time at home with your family during the cold and flu season. Use your common sense and mama intuition. Don’t ransack the stores and buy out all the TP, Clorox wipes and face masks because then people that need them won’t have them. It’s not the apocalypse people. It’s scary because it’s new. Be careful and be safe.