The Coronavirus and Inflammatory Arthritis
by Dr. C.H. Weaver M.D. updated 2/28/2020
What is 2019 novel coronavirus?
The 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is a new virus that causes respiratory illness in people and can spread from person-to-person. This virus was first identified during an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China and has quickly spread throughout China and to 31 other countries including the United States. Individuals with weakened immune systems such as patients on immunosuppressive medications for the treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis, Psoriatic Arthritis or Ankylosing Spondylitis might be at higher risk for infection and complications associated with the virus that causes COVID illness.
Key Facts Patients Should Know?
Take Preventive Measures
For now patients should undergo the same preventive measures they would for other common illnesses like the common cold and influenza “the flu.” Most important is to wash your hands frequently, make sure you cover your cough and your sneezes, stay away from other individuals with respiratory symptoms, and avoid travel to places where there are documented cases of COVID. The US has implemented physical distancing policies and asked all citizens to isolate in place for 30 days.
Is There a Vaccine?
Not yet but researchers are working to develop one. Patients with inflammatory arthritis or autoimmune diseases do however need to get a “Flu shot.” In the U.S we are still in the midst of flu season and patients with depressed immune systems are at higher risk, especially if they are receiving immunotherapy, steroids or immunosuppressive medications which reduce immunity.
Can Testing Determine If You Have Coronavirus?
The main symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to the common cold and include fever, cough, shortness of breath, and a runny nose. It’s difficult to differentiate COVID-19 from the common cold or flu and currently the only way to tell if someone has coronavirus is through testing with a test available through the Centers for Disease Control and several commercial labs. Here is the latest
Products from China?
The production of many medical products, medications and household items of course occurs in China. Currently there is no reason to suspect that packages from China can contain active COVID-19 and medications and other products appear safe The CDC has said there is no evidence supporting the transmission of the disease through imported goods. Currently, it’s only known that the spread of the disease outside of China happens between person to person although there is an active investigation of an individual with COVID-19 in Sacramento and no known contact with an infected individual.