Coronavirus has now been detected in multiple patients in Pennsylvania, and in particular the suburban Philadelphia area.
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 infection are fever (99%), fatigue (70%) and dry cough (60%). According to studies from China, patients who needed to be admitted were more likely to have become short of breath by day 5 of symptoms and were admitted by day 7. Children seem to be at least risk for complications. People above the age of 70 are at greater risk. Other major risk factors are diabetes, hypertension and other chronic medical conditions.
Since pneumonia and respiratory symptoms are a major part of this infection, it is essential to keep your asthma under the best possible control.
At this point, we urge everyone to make sure you are current and up to date on prescriptions for your asthma meds. This is not the time to cut down on medications. It’s very important to continue your maintenance treatment. Inhaled corticosteroids (maintenance inhalers) are not putting you at increased risk for lung infection.
Anybody who has not had appropriate immunization for influenza (6 months and older) since fall 2019 or Pneumovax 23 (once at 65 or once before 65 for people with significant medical conditions) should get vaccinated as soon as possible. These vaccines prevent other lung infections.
What if I have a fever or feel sick?
Call us – don’t come to the office! We will evaluate your symptoms over the phone and direct you on next steps. We are in the process of establishing telemedicine options.
1) Wash you hands - 20 secs with soap and water (temperature does not matter). If soap is not available then use an alcohol based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content.
2) Don't touch your face - eyes, nose, or mouth unless you have washed your hands thoroughly. Cough and sneeze into your elbow or sleeve and then wash your hands.
3) Clean high contact areas with appropriate disinfectant frequently.
4) If possible, maintain a 6-foot perimeter from other people.
5) If you develop a fever, cough, SOB or other symptoms of a viral syndrome self quarantine yourself. DO NOT GO TO THE ED OR YOUR DOCTOR. 80% of patients with COVID -19 will have a mild self limiting infection. Wash off door and bathroom fixture handles and other places you touch with peroxide or antiseptic wipes. Avoid preparing food if possible. If you really do not feel well and you need care CALL T your DOCTOR first. They can provide the appropriate advice and if you need care the receiving hospital /ED need to know you are coming in order to take appropriate precautions.
6) If you have traveled to a high risk area or have returned from a high risk area domestically or internationally or have had direct contact with a patient with known COVID 19 please call the Department of Health for advice. You may need to consider self quarantine for a period of time to contain the spread of this infection.
For those of you who are concerned about exposure in the doctors office:
- Within the office we have redoubled out typical infectious disease prevention practices. Staff are washing their hands or using hand sanitizers frequently and after every patient interaction. The medical equipment that the Doctor is using ( stethoscope, otoscope and ophthalmoloscope) are being wiped with alcohol before and after every patient visit. The patient rooms and high contact areas are being wiped down with appropriate sanitizers after every visit. Our computers are being wiped as well. In other words, we are following standard infection control processes that we normally follow.
- When patients call to make an appointment or we are making reminder call we ask everyone if they have a fever, cough, shortness of breath; or if you have traveled to a high risk area or have returned from a high risk area domestically or internationally or have had direct contact with a patient with known COVID 19. If these screening questions are affirmative we may ask that you convert your list to a telemed visit, and /or refer you to Department of Health for advice
- If patients have a fever, the patient will not be seen in the office
- For patient on immunotherapy (allergy shots) - depending upon the location you receive your shot - we may take the very unusual request to have you wait in your car in the parking lot, instead of in the waiting area or we may have you wait in the hallway. This is all in an attempt observe social distancing to the best of our abilities during this public health emergency. For those of you who may be waiting in the car, we ask that you observe extreme vigilance in regards to any symptoms that you may have that could suggest an allergic reaction. Additionally, for patients on maintenance dose of their allergy shots, on a case by case basis we may defer your allergy shots for an extra week or two. This is a very fluid situation and these recommendations may change very quickly.
We realize the significance of the on going COVID -19 infection but we also recognize that our patients have significant allergic diseases that require treatment. Together we can get through the but we need your understanding and cooperation.