How is coronavirus transmitted?
Via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person sneezes or coughs and can infect people in close contact (within 6 feet). Touching contaminated surfaces before touching your eyes/nose/mouth might also lead to infection.
How does the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) compare with seasonal influenza?
Both are infectious respiratory illnesses that present with symptoms such as fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Both can lead to serious illness especially in older people and those with prior medical conditions. You can get vaccinated for the flu, but there isn’t a vaccine available yet for COVID-19. Phase 1 studies of a possible vaccine are starting in the next 2 months.
What does this mean for IBD patients?
IBD is a condition of an overactive immune system, and is often treated with immune modification or immune suppression. IBD patients on immunosuppressive medications are in general, more susceptible to infection. Specifically, being on steroids or immune modulators like azathioprine, 6-mercaptopurine, or methotrexate can increase an IBD patient’s risk for viral infections. To date, we don’t have specific IBD research on coronavirus.
What can you do to protect yourself?
For now, take general precautions:
- Avoid being in close contact with sick people
- Avoid travel to areas known to be affected by the coronavirus
- Wash your hands frequently
- Avoid touching your nose, eyes and mouth
- Seek medical attention in case of fever, cough or difficulty breathing
- If you haven’t already, get your flu shot!
There is still a lot we don’t know about COVID-19. In the meantime, use reliable sources of information to stay well informed:
World Health Organization: https://www.who.int/
Center For Disease Control: https://www.cdc.gov/
Ashley T. Evans, MD
Digestive Health Clinic