The COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak began in December 2019, and Chinese health officials have reported hundreds of COVID-19 infections in China, including several that resulted in death. Several additional countries have identified cases of COVID-19 infection including the United States. The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) is working closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on monitoring the developing outbreak of COVID-19.
How do people become infected with COVID-19?
Human coronaviruses most commonly spread from an infected person to others through:
- Respiratory droplets released into the air by coughing and sneezing;
- Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands;
- Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes before washing your hands; and
- Rarely, fecal contamination.
It’s not clear yet how easily COVID-19 spreads from person to person. Many of the patients in the pneumonia outbreak caused by COVID-19 in Wuhan, China had some link to large seafood and live animal market, suggesting animal-to-person spread. However, a growing number of patients reportedly have not had exposure to animal markets, indicating person-to-person spread is occurring. There is much more to learn about the transmissibility, severity, and other features associated with COVID-19, and investigations are ongoing.
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What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Patients with confirmed COVID-19 infection have reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of:
- Shortness of breath
If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19 get medical attention immediately. Emergency warning signs include*:
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- New confusion or inability to arouse
- Bluish lips or face
*This list is not all inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning.
At this time, CDC believes that symptoms of COVID-19 may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 days after exposure. This is based on what has been seen previously as the incubation period of MERS coronaviruses.
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How can I avoid infection with COVID-19?
The best way to prevent infection is to take precautions to avoid exposure to this virus, which are similar to the precautions you take to avoid the flu. CDC always recommends these everyday actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
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What do I do if I think I may be infected with COVID-19?
If you have recently traveled or been exposed to someone who traveled to or from Wuhan, China and are experiencing fever, cough or difficulty breathing, contact your healthcare provider. Be sure to call ahead before going to your doctor’s office or emergency department to prevent any potential spread.
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Information for Travelers
CDC does not generally issue advisories or restrictions for travel within the United States. However, cases of COVID-19 have been reported in many states, and some areas are experiencing community spread of the disease. Crowded travel settings, like airports, may increase your risk of exposure to COVID-19, if there are other travelers with COVID-19. DETAIL HERE
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SOURCE: Texas Health and Human Services - Texas Department of State Health Services