Cooties and Chicken Little
Jim - N6MED
I realize this post doesn't have anything to do directly with ham radio. But, I hope it will be tolerated in the spirit in which I have keyboarded it.
Some thoughts and 2-cents prompted by a conversation on the repeater re Covid-19 aka coronavirus, virulence, Corona beer, lime disease, and zombie apocalypse. Full disclosure, I am not either an epidemiologist or virologist. I worked as a cardiac telemetry-medical registered nurse on an acute care unit in a local hospital. Among my patients at times were those who required isolation in negative pressure rooms because of the possibility they had a disease that could be transmitted through the air. I have been trained in the use of the appropriate personal protection equipment ("PPE") to prevent getting exposed and infected with nasty cooties.
There is a lot of info floating around, both good and bad re Covid-19 related to how virulent it is, how it can be transmitted, etc. I am a strong proponent of listening to scientists in the know and to one researching information and data from reliable sources. (But for MDs in the media speaking the straight skinny, that excludes the hype on Fox, CNN, and whoever else is driven by a political agenda and selling the most commercials.) I offer just a tiny number of some related to Covid-19 below.
Some facts as they are know today and subject to change as more is learned about this "novel" (new) pathogen. (Covid-19 was initially called the "Novel Coronavirus" because "novel" means it has not been seen previously.)
1. Currently this cootie is transmitted via contact, droplet, or aerosol (limited airborne).
"Contact" means touching a contaminated inanimate object (think doorknob, door "panic bar" handle, money, etc.) that an infected individual has touched.
"Droplet" means that cloud of droplets one releases from sneezing. Also, the big droplets from coughing. Droplets do not remain in the air for very long. I think of an aerosol spray such as from an air freshener.
"Aerosol/airborne" means very fine droplets that are caught in the wind and linger for awhile. (Right now this pathogen is NOT know to be transmitted in the normal airborne sense like TB, mumps, or Legionnaires Disease. Refer to the Feb 16 Thailand Medical News link below.)
2. Germ masks, for lack of a better term, are intended for protection against droplets and are effective for that purpose. The masks commonly worn by Chinese on the street and folks in other countries are frequently worn improperly.
N95 masks (so called because they filter 95% of hazardous particle, including most cooties. Their are also N-100 masks that are more effective, filtering 100% of cooties. (I am not considering respirators in this discussion.)
>> Search YouTube for instructions intended for clinicians for donning masks. <<
3. Alcohol-based hand sanitizer: generally good to clean hands after potential exposure to cooties. HOWEVER: mucus containing flu or other viral agents inhibits the efficacy of hand sanitizer. So, conjure up the image of someone just coughing or sneezing into their hand and grabbing a doorknob. Maximum EEEEWWWW! factor.
Best: through hand washing with soap and water. Ref: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3PmVJQUCm4E
4. Virulence: Covid-19 has been known to maintain its virulence for upwards of 9 days, but also as little as a few hours. I read a post from a Chicken Little re the 9 day virulent latency of the cootie. Covid-19 CAN last for that long. HOWEVER and BUT, it is all affected by environmental conditions. Expose the cootie to warm or hot dry air and exposure to the sun (i.e., ultraviolet), and it probably won't last long.
5. Currently the lethality of Covid-19 is around 2% though upwards of 4% has been reported in China. By contract, the flu has a 0.1% mortality. Also, by contrast, the flu has killed more to date than Covid-19 simply because of the pure numbers of those infected.
5. Prevention is a matter of Situational Awareness and prudence: avoid crowds, consider surfaces exposed to contact by the general public to be contaminated (almost certainly by the norovirus or flu!). After contacting such surfaces, keep your hands away from your face. Frequent hand washing (ordinary hand or face soap is just fine) is the order of the day.
Though the number infected in the US is still very low, because one who is infected is contagious (incubation period of a couple of weeks) even before symptoms appear. From what I have been able to find, at risk-groups are not limited to the elderly, the very young. I would hazard a guess that those who are immunocompromised (have weakened immune systems) are at higher risk than the general population. Ref: https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/situation-reports/20200228-sitrep-39-covid-19.pdf
Discovery: HIV-like mutation in the new coronavirus may explain why it’s more contagious than the Sars coronavirus. (Author: science writer for the South China Morning Post)
Feb 28: COVID-19 a Reminder of the Challenge of Emerging Infectious Diseases