CLEVELAND – In recent weeks, a new respiratory virus, known as the ’2019 Novel Coronavirus’ – was identified in China.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the virus has made its way to the U.S., as the first case was confirmed in Washington state Tuesday.
According to Steven Gordon, M.D., of Cleveland Clinic, coronavirus is part of a large family of viruses that range in severity from the common cold to severe disease.
“The coronavirus is one of the causes of the common cold, but this novel coronavirus, meaning one that has not been seen before, was attributed to a lot of cases of upper respiratory tract infection, and some pneumonias were reported,” he said.
Coronavirus can be spread by both animals and people.
It is in the same category of infections as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome – or ‘SARS.’
Symptoms of coronavirus are what one would expect from a typical upper respiratory virus – including cough and fever.
Dr. Gordon said the best way to protect against the virus, or any upper respiratory virus, is to practice good cold and flu season hygiene.
He said washing hands thoroughly with soap and water, or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer is recommended.
Also, make sure to properly cover your nose and your mouth when coughing.
“Cough into a tissue, if not, cough into your sleeve, and use good hand hygiene,” said Dr. Gordon. “Obviously, if you’re feeling not well, don’t go to work, whether it’s something that’s extremely contagious or not.”
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the 2019 Novel Coronavirus has claimed multiple lives, and has sickened more than 400. U.S. scientists from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) are already working on a vaccine for the virus.