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What is COVID-19?
COVID-19, short for coronavirus disease 2019, is an infection caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). SARS-CoV-2 is a newly identified pathogen that has not previously been seen in humans and is highly contagious. Though it belongs to the same category of viruses as SARS coronavirus (SARS-CoV) and influenza viruses, SARS-CoV-2 is a different strain with its own characteristics.
How does COVID-19 spread?
Because COVID-19 is a new virus, nobody has prior immunity to it, meaning the entire human population is prone to infection.
COVID-19 primarily spreads via respiratory droplets when people cough or sneeze. Scientists have yet to understand how easily and sustainably the disease can spread among people. Based on available evidence, researchers do not think that airborne spread is a major transmission route.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Common symptoms of COVID-19 begin two to 14 days after exposure. They include fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Other symptoms include sputum production, shortness of breath, sore throat, headache, myalgia (muscle pain) or arthralgia (joint pain), chills, vomiting, and nasal congestion. Less frequent symptoms include diarrhea, hemoptysis (coughing up blood from the respiratory tract), and conjunctival congestion.
Most of these symptoms are usually mild, and about 80% of people who get the virus typically recover without needing any special treatment. However, about 1 in 6 patients become seriously ill and develop breathing difficulties.
What general preventive measures should people take?
The following simple preventive measures can help minimize the spread of COVID-19:
- Wash your hands often with soap, lathering both the front and the back of the hands and fingers for at least 15 to 20 seconds. If soap is not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control produced a poster detailing effective handwashing.
- Avoid close contact with someone who is ill. (Maintain a distance of at least 6 feet, or 1.8 meters).
- Stay at home if you are sick.
- Use a tissue to cover your mouth and nose if you cough or sneeze and dispose of it properly afterward.
- Disinfect surfaces and objects you touch frequently.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
Are patients with Dravet syndrome at an increased risk?
Dravet syndrome is a severe form of epilepsy characterized by prolonged seizures that begin in early life. Although there are no specific data for patients with Dravet syndrome, epilepsy in general does not increase the risk of getting COVID-19 or its severity.
However, a COVID-19 infection may increase seizures, especially if the patient has a high temperature, but preliminary information suggests that this risk is low for most people with epilepsy.
What precautions should patients and caregivers take?
Patients with Dravet syndrome and their caregivers should take precautions to minimize the risk of getting COVID-19, as per the advice of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for people living with a chronic disease.
In addition to the general preventive measures, patients and caregivers should:
- Stock up on necessary medications and supplies that can last for a few weeks.
- Avoid crowds and non-essential travel.
- Stay at home as much as possible.
Caregivers should constantly monitor patients and consult their healthcare providers if they or the patient show any COVID-19-like symptoms.
What should sick individuals do?
If symptoms are present and a COVID-19 diagnosis is confirmed, patients should follow these steps to prevent the spread of the infection:
- Stay at home, preferably in a separate room not shared with others, and isolate yourself, with the exception of getting medical care.
- Avoid public areas and public transport.
- Limit contact with pets and animals.
- Avoid sharing personal items.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes with tissues and dispose of them properly.
- Sanitize your hands regularly.
- Disinfect surfaces such as phones, keyboards, toilets, and tables.
People should call ahead before visiting the hospital for an appointment. This way, the hospital can take necessary steps to prevent the spread of the infection.
What tests are available?
Many tests for the detection of COVID-19 have been made available under the FDA’s emergency use authorization, including rapid tests that are being developed to detect the presence of the virus within minutes.
Is there a treatment?
There are currently no vaccines available for human coronaviruses including COVID-19. This makes the prevention and containment of the virus very important.
Are there new treatments in the pipeline?
Several clinical trials have been launched or are being planned to test a variety of potential treatments and vaccines for COVID-19. A complete list of all ongoing clinical trials pertaining to the virus is available here.
Dravet Syndrome News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.