With COVID-19 upon us and dramatic actions taken around the world to create social distancing, several questions have emerged as to how best to differentiate between the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 to influenza or even the common cold. As you are probably aware, the general signs and symptoms of active COVID-19 are very similar to the those of influenza: Fever, Weakness and a Dry Cough. The only way to definitively tell the difference between the flu and/or a bad cold and COVID-19 is receiving a positive test result back. Since tests seem to be in short supply as of today, you may start to exhibit signs and symptoms before a test is available. How should you proceed?
Here is a link to an interesting article from AP News that helps to clarify the differences in signs and symptoms between COVID-19, the flu (influenza) and a bad cold.
Flu and coronavirus: Similar symptoms, different fears
Based on information available, signs and symptoms can occur from 2 to 14 days after getting the virus. The average time to onset of signs and symptoms has been reported at 5 to 6 days. Signs and symptoms to watch for based on CDC guidance are located here: CDC – COVID-19 Signs and Symptoms
A fever of above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit seems to be the benchmark to watch for, both on the front end of the diagnosis, as well as during the recovery phase. Upon onset of signs and symptoms that are similar, accepted guidance is to contact your healthcare provider by phone and ask for guidance in how best to proceed. In the past several days, there was an interesting CNN’s Recent Town Hall – Five Questions Answered that covered several questions of interest, 3 of which of particular interest, are noted below. The link will connect you to the video of the interview.
1. Will the outbreak end during the summer?
Dr. Leana Wen, the former Baltimore Health Commissioner, echoed what many experts have said at the town hall: we just don’t know yet.
2. If you had the coronavirus and recovered, can you still can still transmit the disease?
Just because someone who had the coronavirus is feeling better does not mean they can’t spread the disease, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the US’s top infectious disease doctor and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
“You can become infected, get symptomatic, resolve the symptoms, feel well, and still share the virus. You can go back to your normal life when you have two consecutive tests for the coronavirus that are negative, separated by 24 hours. That is an excellent question. Just because you feel better or feel well does not mean you are not sharing the virus,” Fauci said.
3. If you get the coronavirus once, can you contract it again?
The answer to that is not yet clear, according to Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, an infectious diseases epidemiologist with the World Health Organization. “Studies are ongoing now. Across a number of countries. We’ll have to get back to you on that,” she said.
More to come as we get it.
Until next time…
Mark Lupo, MBCP, SMP