Lately, the news has been filled with reports of the deadly coronavirus from Wuhan, China. Between travel advisories, warnings and outbreak updates, you may be feeling a bit overwhelmed. To help you out, we’ve compiled everything you need to know about coronavirus, including tips for protecting your family.

What is coronavirus?

The term “coronavirus” refers to a group of viruses that infects mammals, including humans and birds. Most cases of the virus in humans result in mild respiratory infections, with symptoms no more severe than the common cold.

However, every once in a while a strain of coronavirus will jump from animals to humans and cause more severe symptoms. That was the case with the deadly SARS epidemic in 2003. Experts believe that the current outbreak in China, caused by the 2019-nCoV strain of the virus, also resulted from the initial transmission of the virus from animals to humans.

Coronavirus symptoms

Symptoms of 2019-nCoV infection may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 days after exposure. They can include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

If you travelled to China in the last two weeks and have any of the above symptoms, you should seek medical care immediately and avoid contact with others.

Is my family at risk for contracting coronavirus?

Cases of 2019-nCoV infection in travelers from China have been detected in the U.S., and person-to-person spread of 2019-nCoV has been seen among close contacts of travelers who have returned from Wuhan, but at this time, this virus is NOT currently spreading in the community in the United States.

How do I protect my family from coronavirus?

There is currently no vaccine to prevent 2019-nCoV infection. The best way to keep from getting sick is to limit your exposure to the virus by avoiding non-essential travel to Wuhan, China.

If you must travel to China, you should:

  • Avoid contact with sick people.
  • Avoid animals (alive or dead), animal markets and products that come from animals (such as uncooked meat).
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.

Preventing the spread of respiratory viruses

The following everyday habits can help prevent the spread of coronavirus and other respiratory viruses:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

You should also make sure that everyone in your household has gotten their flu shot, since the odds of your child getting the flu are much higher than the odds of them contracting coronavirus!

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