The Coronavirus or COVID-19 is one of the biggest viral health concerns to strike the human population in years. Speculation runs rampant in the media as many people wonder what they can do to prevent the spread of COVID-19 as well as keep it from infecting them or their family members.
The truth is that coronaviruses are a broad family of dangerous microbes. Many of them are zoonotic meaning they can be passed from animals to humans and vice versa. Past coronaviruses that likely have heard of include MERS and SARS. While COVID-19 or “Wuhan Flu” still has many unknown variables, we can still look to the past information gathered by studying the spread of Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome.
What Are The Symptoms Of The COVID-19 Coronavirus?
The symptoms of COVID-19 are very similar to influenza. This includes things like coughing, sneezing, nasal discharge, fever, and shortness of breath. The incubation period of this particular virus isn’t known though symptoms tend to manifest within 2 to 14 days after initial exposure.
Physicians who diagnose patients with suspected influenza or the coronavirus will typically ask questions like “Have you been to Southeast Asia in the last two weeks?” or “Have you been in close contact with someone who has been to Southeast Asia recently?”
How Is The COVID-19 Coronavirus Spread?
Just like Influenza A and Influenza B, the COVID-19 coronavirus is spread when a person with an active COVID-19 infection coughs or sneezes and discharged droplets are released into the air, which is accidentally inhaled by another person.
As we learned with MERS and SARS, it’s also possible for a viable viral load to persist on hard surfaces for days after discharge. Though some early research is pointing to the possibility that COVID-19 doesn’t last as long as MERS and SARS can on physical surfaces.
Can The Corona Virus Infect The Eyes?
It’s said that the eyes are the windows to the soul. While coronaviruses like MERS, SARS and COVID-19 might have severe respiratory symptoms, it turns out the eyes might also be a doorway to possible infection. There might be potential for it to affect the health of your eyes.
For example, an individual suffering from COVID-19 could sneeze or cough. The airborne particles of discharge could potentially land on the semi-gelatinous surface of your eye. Indeed, this is just one of the reasons why you see many physicians and healthcare professionals wearing goggles and face shields when treating patients.
The tissues around the eyes also have something called Langerhans cells, which are an extension of the body’s own immune system. Sometimes a strong virus like influenza or COVID-19 can come in contact with these special cells and use it as a way to infiltrate into your body. Though no one is really sure how potent this method might be when it comes to this particular coronavirus.
This type of transfer can be through indirect exposure. Say for example a person with the coronavirus touches a door handle or some other type of common hard surface, then another individual touches that same door handle, an hour or maybe even a day later. If that person was to then rub their eye, the virus could be introduced to their body without ever being in the presence of the initial sneeze of cough of the infected person.
Potential Eye Complications Caused By The COVID-19 Coronavirus
It might also be possible for the COVID-19 coronavirus to affect the eyes in other ways. This could include things like conjunctivitis or pinkeye. It’s unclear at this time what a potential secondary infection of the eye might manifest.
How To Reduce The Chances Of Spreading The COVID-19 Coronavirus
As you can imagine preventing the spread of COVID-19 comes with a lot of the same commonsense things you would do to prevent the spread of influenza. This starts with things like covering your cough or sneeze with your elbow or a thick handkerchief. If you or someone else uses a hand to cover a cough or sneeze make sure that hand is washed with soap and water or hand sanitizer.
Simple habits to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 Coronavirus includes:
- Frequently washing hands
- Avoiding handshakes
- Staying home when sick
- Not rubbing your eyes with your bare fingers
- Disinfecting hard surfaces with a quality disinfectant cleaning solution
- Avoiding close contact with sick individuals
At this time, it’s still unclear how long the COVID-19 Coronavirus can survive on a hard surface. With MERS and SARS, which are also technically classified as coronaviruses, they could survive in a viable state on a hard surface for up to a week.
So, it’s a good idea to disinfect hard surfaces with quality cleaning products that are rated specifically for disinfecting hard surfaces. Especially if someone in your household is or has recently been sick. Even if the coronavirus never darkens your doorstep, this simple habit can reduce the chances of spreading other germs like Influenza A and Influenza B.
Making changes in your social habits might also be worth considering. There are some people who will forgo shaking hands during cold and flu season, or perhaps switching over to the classic fist-bump.
Limiting The Panic Of The COVID-19 Coronavirus
The 24-hour news cycle often leaves the media hungry for a good story, and something like a potent new virus can often be fertile ground for speculation to take root. While it’s certainly good to keep up with current events, it’s also important to keep in mind the source of the information you are receiving.
News agencies and journalists might be well-intentioned when reporting on the COVID-19 Coronavirus, but they aren’t experts in the field of medicine. Just like the classic childhood game of telephone, it’s possible for the information to become increasingly inaccurate as it passes from one source to the next.
If you do happen to hear something new that concerns you, try to double-check the information with an official agency like the Centers for Disease Control. They are a prevailing authority and do their best to keep accurate up to date information on their website.