Associations Advise Doctors, Public Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

The deadly virus has spread quickly from China to the United States, and as researchers scramble to find a treatment, medical groups are advising members and the public on how to recognize cases and protect themselves.

Medical associations aren’t taking any chances with the Wuhan coronavirus, also known as the 2019 novel coronavirus—a deadly, highly contagious disease that originated in China and last week appeared for the first time in the U.S.

Now, medical associations are warning both their members and the public about the virus, which infects the respiratory system and has so far killed at least 80 people worldwide. At least five cases have been confirmed in the U.S., and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is tracking dozens more potential ones.

While details remain vague as to its cause and potential risks, a number of major medical groups are offering precautionary advice to both doctors and the public. Among them:

American College of Emergency Physicians.  ACEP is advising ER doctors on how to manage a suspected case when it appears. “Human-to-human transmission of the novel coronavirus is occurring, but it is not clear yet how easily it spreads from person to person,” the association states on its alert page. “Airborne and contact precautions, along with eye protection, should be used when treating a patient with fever plus symptoms of lower respiratory illness who has traveled from Wuhan City, China, or who has had close contact with a person under investigation for the novel coronavirus while that person was ill.”

American Medical Association. The AMA is sharing information with doctors via text-based recommendations and live video events, including a Facebook Live discussion that was held Friday. Additionally, a commentary published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, written by experts at the Penn State University College of Medicine and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, says that although coronaviruses once were seen as mild infections like the common cold, they need to be taken more seriously. “The emergence of yet another outbreak of human disease caused by a pathogen from a viral family formerly thought to be relatively benign underscores the perpetual challenge of emerging infectious diseases and the importance of sustained preparedness,” the authors wrote.

American Lung Association. The association offered general health information from the CDC and other authoritative sources, including recommendations about how to prevent the spread of the disease. “The American Lung Association is closely following reports issued by CDC and will help relay important public health information provided by the agency,” said Albert Rizzo, the association’s chief medical officer, in a statement.

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Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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