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The Coronavirus Epidemic

Upper respiratory infections (URIs) with fever, cough and shortness of breath mimicking the flu, bronchitis or pneumonia are appearing across the country due to coronavirus. The majority of US cases initially occurred in people who lived in, or recently traveled to epidemic areas of Asia. However, that changed when new cases turned up in nursing homes and small communities on the East and West coasts through person-to-person spread.

It is important to remember that while most cases have been mild requiring no medical intervention, fear is mounting that global and domestic travel will foster new more highly virulent mutant forms.

The root of the problem for health officials is how slow they were in providing adequate testing to catalog cases by limiting diagnostic testing to only high-risk cases with a history of travel or known contacts.

If you develop fever, cough and shortness of breath or believe you were in contact with someone with the flu or coronavirus, I recommend going to your doctor and asking to be examined for the usual causes of a URI. If you continue to worsen, ask to be tested for coronavirus. Stay home from work or school and carefully monitor your health.

The most important tactic is prevention by hyper-hygiene in public. Hand hygiene is the cornerstone of infection prevention followed by not touching your face, something we do 25 times per hour brining viral particles on our hands to mucous membranes. Wash your hands every to the tune of Happy Birthday, conscientiously like a surgeon.

Although there is no vaccine for coronavirus, there is one for seasonal flu. Vaccination will reduce cases of seasonal flu and therefore, suspected cases of coronavirus. If you experience repeated bacterial or virus infections, you may have an underlying autoimmune disease or an immune deficiency. Ask your doctor about the need for intravenous or subcutaneous immune globulin (IVIg or SCIg) therapy. These new treatments are risk-free and keep you healthy all year. Your health insurance will cover the expense if you get the medicine preauthorized.