Germs Public Health

COVID-19 Update

            While the COVID-19 coronavirus is a national concern, it ranks in severity far below past viruses like Ebola, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome  (SARS).

            Some have estimated COVID-19 to be on par with seasonal flu in terms of expected fatalities.  Others claim higher fatality rates.  Expect these fatality estimates to vary widely until better data is available. The more pressing issue is the highly contagious nature of COVID-19.

            Until more is known, it behooves us to take precautions.  Of course, these are the same precautions we should have been taking to reduce the spread of the common cold, seasonal flu, and a dozen other viruses that routinely visit our community.

            For an overview of where COVID-19 came from and what to do to protect yourself, Dr. Peter Lin offers a short video called “Understanding the Novel Coronavirus (5 min). For more about COVID-19, including recommendations for scheduling travel, the Frequently Asked Questions page at the Center for Disease Control is an excellent resource.

Are You Likely to Get COVID-19?

            The Harvard epidemiology professor Marc Lipsitch predicts that within the coming year, some 40 to 70 percent of people around the world may be infected with COVID-19. But, he clarifies emphatically, this does not mean that all will have severe illnesses. It’s likely that many will have a mild case of the disease, and many more will have no symptoms.

            As with the flu, COVID-19 can be life-threatening to the very young, the elderly, and people with chronic health conditions.  These at-risk groups, especially those with chronic medical concerns, should avoid big social gatherings and airline flights, while the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 grows.

            The emerging consensus among epidemiologists is that the most likely outcome of this outbreak is a new seasonal disease.  If this virus follows the usual pattern, and if the disease continues to be as severe as it is now, “cold and flu season” could become “cold, flu, and COVID-19 season.”  For more about what to expect, read, “You’re Likely to Get the Coronavirus.”

The Proper Way to Wash Hands

            Help to fight COVID-19 has been coming from the most unlikely places.  In a one minute video, Danial Kheirikhah takes “The Art of Hand Washing (1 min)” to a new level.

            Around the world, many like Danial Kheirikhah are helping spread the word that viruses succeed best when people help them.

            Like many viruses, COVID-19 can be a significant danger for people with weakened immune systems.  Although the elderly and very young are at higher risk, in many cases, the greatest risk is from a weakened immune system resulting from poor lifestyle choices.  For example, much of our immune system is built by beneficial bacteria in the gut that needs fiber from plant-based whole foods.  Sleep, exercise, stress management, and even the quality of social interactions affect our ability to resist viruses.

            Nancy Neighbors, MD

Click here for more news about changes in healthcare.

What’s for Dinner?

            Why not a warm roasted vegetable mixed grain salad recommendation from Forks Over Knives?   With a creamy dressing, hearty roasted veggies, and plenty of grains, this is a super nourishing salad.  Click here for the recipe.

How to Build a Better Sandwich

            Turn the ultimate convenience food into the ultimate healthy meal with these flavor-boosting sandwich ingredient ideas. Click here to learn more.

By Nancy Neighbors, MD

... Dr. Neighbors provides a blend of traditional family medicine and evidence-based lifestyle medicine in Huntsville, Alabama. When indicated, lifestyle change is recommended as the first line of therapy.

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