by H. Cody Meissner, MD, FAAP
Human Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that commonly cause mild to moderate illness like the common cold. Almost everyone gets infected with one of these viruses at some point in their lives, and most of the time the illness lasts for a short amount of time.
A new coronavirus
A new human coronavirus, called the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), was discovered in Wuhan City, China, in December 2019. While we know it's contagious, it is still not known how easily it spreads from person to person. Public health officials are actively investigating this virus to learn more about its impact.
People with confirmed cases of the Novel Coronavirus reported illnesses ranging from mild to severe. Symptoms are similar to the flu and can include:
- Shortness of breath
- Body aches
- Sore throat
How to protect your family
There is currently no vaccine to prevent 2019-nCoV infection. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, here are a few other ways you can keep your family healthy and help prevent the spread of viruses, including:
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based
- Keep your kids away from others who are sick or keep them home if they are ill.
- Teach kids to cough and sneeze into their arm or elbow, not their hands.
- Clean and
disinfect household objects and surfaces in your home.
- Avoid travel to China until this outbreak has passed.
If you have recently traveled to China and have any of the symptoms above, talk to your doctor. You may need to be tested and may be told to stay home for up to 14 days to prevent the spread of the virus, even though you may not have symptoms.
Families are also encouraged to stay up to date about this situation as we learn more about how to prevent this virus from spreading in homes and in communities. See the resources below for the latest developments from the CDC, including travel warnings, new cases and prevention advice.
These resources are based on what is currently known about 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV). The CDC will update them as new information becomes available.
More Information from HealthyChildren.org
About Dr. Meissner
H. Cody Meissner, MD, FAAP, is professor of pediatrics at Floating Hospital for Children, Tufts Medical Center. He also is an ex officio member of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Committee on Infectious Diseases and associate editor of the
AAP Visual Red Book.