By Cassie Richardson, health enews contributor, A news service from Advocate Aurora Health
U.S. and Chinese health officials are investigating the causes of a new coronavirus believed to be behind a recent cluster of respiratory illnesses, including one identified case in Washington state.
But there’s no need to panic.
“This is an evolving process and we’re learning in a rapid fashion what is occurring,” says Dr. Adam Treitman, section head of infectious disease and medical director of infection control at Advocate Christ Medical Center, in Oak Lawn, IL. “There’s certainly no reason to panic, but it’s important to be aware and keep in touch with any updates the CDC brings forward.”
As health officials work to learn more about the virus, Dr. Treitman recommends everyone to take normal precautions for staying healthy such as washing your hands.
Known as the Wuhan Virus because of its suspected origins in the Chinese city bearing the same name, the virus has infected 300 people and caused 6 deaths, according to a Jan. 21 report from the CDC. The person diagnosed with the first case reported in the U.S., had recently traveled to Wuhan.
“Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing respiratory illness in people and others circulating among animals including camels, cats and bats,” a news release from the CDC reads. “Rarely, animal coronaviruses can evolve and infect people and then spread between people, such as has been seen with Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).”
Normal precautions to help you avoid getting sick during the flu season include the following quick tips also published in an article by Advocate Aurora Heath writers:
- Wash your hands
You should be washing your hands often, especially before eating, after using the bathroom and after being around those who are ill. Avoid touching your mouth, eyes and nose, and if you do, make sure those hands are clean.
Dr. James Malow, chairman of the Department of Internal Medicine at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago, explains, “There are two methods to effectively clean your hands. One can use alcohol hand gels/foam or, two, use soap and water. When using soap and water, the hands should be scrubbed for 15 seconds, which is how long it takes to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ twice.”
- Eat healthy and stay hydrated
Make sure you’re drinking plenty of water and other fluids throughout the day. Eating a balanced and plenty of fruits and vegetables is an easy way to prevent sickness, too.
- Get a good night’s sleep
Try turning off your electronic devices before you go to bed so you are not distracted and can get your beauty rest.
- Get vaccinated
Getting a flu vaccination is a simple yet important step to avoid to flu. Contact your physician or seek out your local pharmacy for more information on how to get vaccinated.
“Getting a flu shot is the most effective way to keep from getting influenza,” says Dr. Malow.
- Avoid those who have the flu
Keeping a distance from those who are sick can make all the difference. Limit your exposure to germs that can possibly affect your and your family’s chances of catching the flu.
“The flu season usually lasts for 5-6 months and can start as early as September or October,” explains Dr. Malow.
He also stresses, “If you catch the flu, stay home from work/school to avoid the spread of illness to those around you.”
For more health and wellness news, visit www.ahchealthenews.com.
Cassie Richardson, health enews contributor, is regional coordinator on Advocate Aurora Health’s Public Affairs team. She has more than 10 years of experience in health care communications, marketing, media and public relations. Cassie is a fan of musical theater and movies. When she’s not spreading the word about health and wellness advancements, she enjoys writing fiction.