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By Dr. Daniel Lee

As the Corona virus (Covid-19) has hit the US, fear has started to set in.  To what extent this virus effects our everyday life, is still to be determined.   Everyone is hoping that it will be short lived as in the case of SARS outbreak in 2002 that led to 774 deaths.  However as of March 1, 2020 there have already been over 3,000 deaths reported from Covid-19. The mortality rate is currently at 3% which is high compared to the common flu virus, which is at 0.1%. 

Not only is there a higher mortality rate but it seems to be very contagious.  The average infected person spreads the disease to 2-3 people. It is now known that infected individuals can transmit the virus before they have symptoms.  This is obviously problematic because the infected person may not be taking the necessary precautions or be remaining in isolation and unknowingly be transmitting the virus.  

Most COVID-19 transmissions are from symptomatic individuals.  The symptoms arise 2-14 days after exposure. The most common are fever, cough, and shortness of breath.  It is imperative for every individual that develops a fever and cough to be evaluated by your physician and be tested for COVID-19.  If you develop a fever with respiratory symptoms, then you need to immediately start wearing a mask to prevent respiratory droplet transmission and avoid contact with others.   

Currently there is not a vaccine available.  Thus, we all should be focused on prevention. If you choose to go into a large crowded setting, especially in areas of reported COVID-19, you may want to wear a face mask. Everyone should be washing their hands throughout the day, along with not touching their nose, mouth and eyes with unwashed hands.  This virus will only disappear after those infected are not transferring it to others.  

The mortality rate is higher in the elderly and others who have a weakened immune system.  Thus, it would be prudent to optimize your immune system. Some simple steps to improving your immune system are sleeping at least 7-8 hours a night.  Exercise at least 20 minutes a day 5 times a week. Lastly consider the taking vitamin C, zinc, echinacea, and probiotics.  

At this time we should not be living in fear over COVID-19; however this virus has demonstrated to spread rapidly and have a high mortality rate compared to the many common viruses that we encounter.  I encourage everyone to take prevention seriously, and hopefully this will quickly be a thing of the past.