The coronavirus and you

By Allan J Bogdan MD | Mar 19, 2020

The current situation in the world should give us all pause. In a matter of weeks an invisible marauder has traversed continents and oceans swiftly delivering fear, sickness and death to anyone it possibly can. FDR said “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Healthy concern is appropriate right now. But fear is not constructive nor does it make you healthier. It actually stresses your immune system and makes you vulnerable to infection and illnesses.

The coronavirus is one of many we share this planet with. They are simple entities that some scientists have argued defy the definition of “life.” Viruses don’t need houses, cars, iPhones or other luxuries. They do not eat or breathe. Many like coronavirus don’t even have DNA. They have RNA. RNA is a simpler form of genetic material. It makes it easier for these minuscule invaders to evolve and multiply and harder for us to inactivate them Examples of RNA viruses include Ebola, influenza, and Hepatitis C.

Viruses have one motivation … to make more viruses. Their one fault is many of them kill their hosts, while others like herpes cause cold sores and perennially remind us of their residence within our bodies. Viruses are not racist, they are apolitical, they are the most efficient and effective entities on this planet. They are the great equalizer.

Our knowledge about COVID-19 is growing hourly. Here’s what we know. The virus originated in China causing great disruption to the lives of many. It is more infectious than the flu virus, but less infectious than measles thankfully. It is deadlier than the flu (a 10% higher mortality rate) and we do not have a vaccine or definitively effective drug to treat it at this time. Out of all the people tested across the world we are seeing a rate of 1 to 3% positive tests results. Out of those, 1 to 2% of them will have poor outcomes, including death. But 98 to 99% will recover! Take comfort in that. Patients older than 60 years are hardest hit by COVID-19. This is because as we accrue birthdays, our immune system doesn’t have the same robust spark it did in our younger years. Patients with underlying medical conditions have a much higher risk of complications and death. The virus can live for hours in the air. It can live for days on surfaces. And, now we know that this pathogen is here in Maine.

We will see a peak in the infections and human cost. We have weeks to months to deal with this contagion. We need to limit our exposure to one another. Stay home as much as possible. Don’t touch your face. Wash your hands for 30 to 60 seconds. Avoid crowds. Clean your phone, keys and car with Lysol, or 91% alcohol. Most importantly, stay home if you don’t feel well and call your doctor for advice.

Last week I began having people wait in their cars while they waited for their appointments rather than wait in the waiting room. We will probably close the office for a period and I’ll only see emergencies. This is an ever-evolving situation. The take-away is: limiting your exposure will decrease your chances of becoming infected and this behavior will also slow the spread. Above all else, boredom may be the hardest thing for us to fight during our quarantining. This is a great time to start working out, binge on your favorite shows, paint a room, read a good book, write, or prepare your seeds for the garden. I know I’ll be hoping that summer delivers us on the other side of this experience wiser, more appreciative of each other, and healthier.

Allan J Bogdan is from Maine Coast Eye Care Associates in Rockport.

 

 

 

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