Coronaviruses have been spreading like wildfire across the United States over the past few months, posing a serious threat to virtually everyone in the country. Coronaviruses can cause respiratory illnesses that last anywhere from a few days to months, including flu-like symptoms and pneumonia.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently issued an alert about a surge in the number of middle-age, middle-income workers sickened by the H1N1 Coronavirus. As of May 2018, more than 100,000 people have been infected across the world. In the United States, about 58 cases have been reported. The majority of the cases have been reported in patients in the 10-24 age group. No deaths have been reported.
The average prevalence of the virus is fairly low: less than one in a million people. However, it can spread easily among people with weakened immune systems, primarily those who are older and not as active as usual. Like other illnesses, it can be serious enough to require hospitalization and treatment by medical personnel. About half of all cases fail to recover.
When someone contracts the virus, it tends to spread quickly and without obvious symptoms. Symptoms, which include fever, cough, shortness of breath, diarrhea, vomiting, and low-grade body aches, may be more severe in young children and in people who are obese.
A person who was exposed to the virus without developing symptoms may experience heightened redness in the eyes, ears, nose, mouth and/or throat. People who develop symptoms include only those who have been around someone infected.
Patients with an acrimonious divorce from a known transmitter are particularly at risk. While the risk of contracting a virus can be a cause for concern, there’s a smart way to limit the risk of developing symptoms and infections. (Highlight text: The CDC recommendations are based on risk factors such as age, race, gender, income, and mobility.)
To protect yourself against the most commonly cited risk factors for a common acute respiratory infection in adults—including the H1N1 Coronavirus—you need to get a booster shot by your healthcare provider or by a healthcare provider who is trained to administer an influenza shot.
The CDC recommends a moderate booster of an older annual flu vaccine, typically given around the middle of October. The CDC also recommends getting a shot against the respiratory syncytial virus, which is highly infectious when sick. To receive both, you should get a flu shot around the same time every year and get your annual DTaP vaccination (for people age 50 and older), while receiving your monthly booster shot. You need to consult with your doctor or pharmacist to obtain your vaccine.
The CDC’s recommendations are a great way to protect yourself from the deadly virus. If you were exposed to the virus without symptoms and cannot obtain a vaccination, your best chance at prevention is not to engage in any behaviors that could lead to frequent close contact with others, such as coughing, sneezing, hugging, sharing eating utensils, or walking on broken glass.
–By Jennifer Lospira, MD
Find out more about the U.S. CDC’s recommended swine flu vaccination at www.cdc.gov/flu/a-booster-shot.