What We Can Learn From the Coronavirus News

Alan Tanabe/ January 28, 2020/ Uncategorized/ 4 comments

Greetings, everybody!


It is likely that most of us have at least heard some of news regarding the coronavirus outbreak. At the time of writing this post, there have been three suspected cases of coronavirus in Washtenaw County.   **UPDATE – Each case has been found to be negative for coronavirus…Yay!!**  Regardless, this post intends to share some information about this latest viral outbreak and hopefully answer some questions you may have about it.

What to know about this coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some of which are known to cause illness in some people. An example that many may remember would be the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-coronavirus). The coronavirus that is currently making headlines is a novel (previously unidentified) form of this virus. It is believed that this coronavirus was first identified in Wuhan, Hebei Province in China.

How does this coronavirus spread to others?

While not yet confirmed, it is believed that this coronavirus is spread in ways similar to other respiratory viruses; through droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes.


What are common symptoms of coronavirus infection?

A person infected with coronavirus will often experience respiratory symptoms including nasal drainage, cough, and difficulty breathing.  A patient may also experience a fever.  If symptoms are untreated, a person may experience respiratory failure.  

How do I know if I have a coronavirus infection or a different viral infection?

Here is where it can become tricky.  Coronavirus infections often cause symptoms similar to the common cold virus.  It is important to remember the risk of coronavirus infection is far less likely than a typical cold.  Testing would be required to determine if the coronavirus is the cause of the illness.  In short, don’t panic or jump to conclusions based upon the presence of symptoms.  Talk with your physician or pharmacist if you have concerns.  As with any other respiratory infection, if you experience significant difficulty in breathing, contact your physician.


Am I at risk for coronavirus?

At this time, the greatest risk factor is for those who have recently been to Hubei province in China.  It is uncertain at this time if simply being in contact with someone who has been to this province directly increases your risk a great amount.

Is there a cure or vaccine to protect me against this coronavirus?

At this time, there is no vaccine or cure for this coronavirus.  However, the symptoms can usually be treated with appropriate non-prescription medications.  Ask your pharmacist for more information.

How can I protect myself from this coronavirus?

Protect yourself the same way as you would with other common illness-causing viruses.  This includes washing your hands often with soap and water.  Also, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer to clean your hands when soap and water are not readily available.  Get enough quality sleep.  Eat nutritious meals.  Face masks may reduce the risk of contracting this coronavirus, but at this time the Center for Disease Control (CDC) does not feel using these masks is necessary in the United States for preventing this infection.


If you are interested in more details about coronavirus, here is a link to the CDC site with more information: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html

Questions?  As always, we encourage you to leave any in the comments section or to contact us at https://bettermymeds.com


Wishing you good health!


#pharmacy  #coronavirus  #community  #healthcare  #patientcare  


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About Alan Tanabe

Alan Tanabe, PharmD. has been a registered pharmacist in the state of Michigan since 1991. In addition to working as a pharmacist in a community setting, he has specialized in patient services including Medication Therapy Management to help patients achieve better health-related outcomes.


  1. I just read that they are screening for the virus at Metro Airport. There was no mention on how the screening is being performed. Any ideas?

  2. Hi Tony,
    I have not seen the screening process firsthand, but from news reports it appears that travelers from China will be asked to fill out a questionnaire about their travels and any symptoms they may have. These travelers may also be subjected to having their temperatures taken. If any of these travelers appear ill, they may be taken to a hospital for care and testing.
    Reports also suggest that Detroit Metro Airport is not the only major airport in the US that is performing these screenings.

    Thank you for your question and interest.

  3. Alan, can you comment on the risk of serious illness from the new coronavirus compared to influenza? It seems to me that we’re making a big deal of this new illness but ignoring the ongoing impact of the flu season. What do you think?

    1. Great thoughts, Betty! Obviously the heavy coverage by the media keeps the topic in mind and people talking about it, and considering what has been happening in China, this coronavirus does warrant attention. In addition, the fact that this is a novel (previously unidentified) strain of coronavirus and there is currently no vaccine to protect against it lends some concern. However, to put things in perspective, here are some estimated statistics that compare this coronavirus against recent flu seasons and the SARS outbreak from November 2002 to July 2003 (all statistics from CDC):

      VIRUS Cases with symptoms in US Deaths in US Mortality Rate
      Flu 2016-2017 29,000,000 38,000 0.13%
      Flu 2017-2018 45,000,000 61,000 0.13%
      Flu 2018-2019 35,500,000 34,000 0.09%

      Coronavirus 2020 (last updated 1/29/2020
      Cases in China: 6,171 Deaths in China: 133 Mortality Rate: 2.2%
      Cases in USA: 5 Deaths in US: 0 Mortality Rate: 0%
      Cases in Canada: 3 Deaths in Canada: 0 Mortality Rate 0%

      SARS 11/2002 – 7/2003 Worldwide 8,096 cases Worldwide deaths: 774 Mortality Rate: 9.6%

      So looking at these statistics, it suggests that one is FAR more likely to contract the flu than the coronavirus. The mortality rate is higher with the coronavirus when compared with the flu (at least in China), but far lower than the mortality rate of the SARS outbreak.

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