COVID-19: A CDC Overview

COVID-19 is the latest among the respiratory diseases that have endangered human lives. SARS-CoV-2 is the causative agent of this disease and has been reported to be zoonotic in origin, and this disease came from animals and due to various human interventions and activities, found its way into a new host.

What do we know about this disease?

Anyone is susceptible to contract this disease regardless of race, sex, age, and location. Anyone can have mild to severe symptoms. Older adults and individuals who have underlying medical conditions such as lung disease or diabetes are at higher risk for developing severe complications from contracting COVID-19.

As of now, those who have been found positive of COVID-19 have reported a wide range of symptoms including fever, cough, difficulty breathing, body malaise, body aches, headache, loss of taste or smell, sore throat, runny nose, nausea and/or vomiting, and diarrhea. 

Once a person has contracted the virus, he or she may not show any symptoms until the 2nd to the 14th day after being exposed. If you take a closer look at the symptoms mentioned above, you may realize that the list closely resembles the symptoms of influenza, commonly known as flu. 

You are correct and both are, in a way, similar in more ways than one. Both are highly contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different types of viruses. While SARS-CoV-2 can be credited for causing COVID-19, influenza viruses cause your typical flu. 

A person with flu may manifest the symptoms within 1-4 days of being exposed meanwhile a person with COVID-19 may not manifest any symptoms until the 4th or 5th day (in some cases, as early as 2 days) of getting exposed. 

As for severity, people with flu can generally recover after a couple of days and only a fraction will, unfortunately, develop complications. The same can't be said for COVID-19 as it has proved to be deadlier. 

Lastly, there are already multiple existing FDA-approved vaccines for influenza in the market. More than 100 teams and collaborations are still working round-the-clock to come up with the first coronavirus vaccine. The good news is that a few have made it to Phase 3 human trials and may soon publish their results.

There are a couple of testing methods adopted by most scientific bodies and medical institutions. There is the viral test - this will test if you have a current infection. A viral test will involve swabbing both of your nostrils using a cotton swab then a machine will be able to analyze if you are indeed COVID-19 positive or not.

An antibody test is done to check if you had past infections of COVID-19. If your test results come back positive, then you may be advised to undergo a viral test for confirmation. 

The CDC has laid out considerations for people who should get tested and they include people who have symptoms of COVID-19, people who have been asked or referred by their healthcare provider to undergo one, and those who have had close contact with someone positive of COVID-19. Close contact here is defined as being within 6 feet of someone for more than 15 minutes. 

What do you do to protect yourself?

Unfortunately, there is nothing in this world that would render us with immunity to this disease now, so our best bet right now is to equip ourselves with the necessary knowledge to prevent getting infected.

The best way to do that is to first know how the disease spreads. Based on the latest advisory from the CDC, the virus is spread from person-to-person: between people who have been in close contact (within 6 feet from another for more than 15 minutes), through respiratory droplets that an infected person releases when he/she coughs or sneezes - these droplets can find their way to the next susceptible person through inhalation, and even if a person may seem to be asymptomatic (does not show any symptoms) he/she might still be a carrier.

In line with this, the CDC directs us to follow certain protocols to increase our chances of not contracting this highly contagious disease including:

  1. Frequent Washing of Hands - wash your hands with soap and water especially when you think you’ve touched certain surfaces or after blowing your nose or coughing. If you’re in a situation where handwashing may prove to be impossible, bring with you a hand sanitizer or alcohol with 60% concentration and use that instead. This is important as components found in alcohol and soap can kill the virus.

  1. Avoid Close Contact - as mentioned earlier, person-to-person is possible due to droplet transmission. The coronavirus droplet can remain suspended in the air once released but is not light enough to travel more than 6 feet from its source. Hence the reason why we’re advised to stay 6 feet away from the next person. 

  1. Wear Face Coverings - it is hard enough to fight an enemy that is invisible to the naked eye. Worse is that it could be anywhere! As such, the CDC advises everyone to wear face coverings (a 3-ply cloth mask would even suffice) to protect you from accidentally inhaling droplets suspended in the air on surfaces. If you have symptoms, then it’s also your civic duty (aside from staying at home), to protect the ones around you from getting infected.

  1. Monitor Your Health Daily - early detection and treatment are paramount when dealing with COVID-19. You must be alert for the symptoms: fever, cough, colds, and shortness of breath. If symptoms persist, contact your healthcare provider right away and prepare for the possibility of getting admitted for further treatment and monitoring.

You’re all caught up and we will continue to post the latest advisories and relevant information from the CDC and WHO. As the flu season dawns upon us, it is highly likely that both the common flu and COVID-19 will continue to wreak havoc in our lives so it is of utmost importance that you protect yourself by following the guidelines mentioned above. Stay safe and be well!

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