By Dr. Meghan Kemnec, ND

February 27, 2020

COVID-19, or Coronavirus, is a virus that is likely to spread into communities in the coming weeks in the US, with the first confirmed case of unknown origin diagnosed in Northern California just yesterday. It is important to note that most people with Coronavirus exposure recover after experiencing only mild flu symptoms.

This article details some of what you can do to prepare your families to maintain health and reduce discomfort in case of a pandemic.

Healthcare Professionals, Epidemiologists, and CDC representatives are recommending the following: 

  • Frequent hand washing. As always during a flu season, we should wash our hands very regularly and especially before eating.
  • Wear a mask if you are ill or expect to be in close contact with those that could be ill. A recent study has shown that a surgical mask is just as effective as the N95 respirator for preventing the spread of flu. If you can’t find the N95 mask now due to high demand, a surgical mask and good hand washing technique should be protective.

What to Do to Prepare at Home: 

  • Make a back-up plan for school and day care in case of closures.
  • Talk to your employer about the possibility of working remotely in case of a large epidemic.
  • Consider stocking up on essential supplies like food and medicines in case of a disruption to supply lines. Experts advise keeping a 30 day supply of non-perishable food items as well as any daily medicines on hand in case of store closures or interrupted supply from China.

How to prepare your immune system to prevent catching a stronger case of flu or coronavirus: 

As of now no vaccine is available for this coronavirus, but we can take regular precautions with supplements, healthy diet, and sufficient sleep.

Diet and lifestyle guidance: 

  • Eat soups and meals cooked with garlic. The lectin content is naturally antiviral.
  • Focus on healthy, well-balanced meals that incorporate fruit, vegetables, and protein.
  • Drink water! Hydration is key to maintaining robust immune function.
  • Getting sufficient sleep, at least 7-8 hours is also advised to allow for cellular repair and immune competence.

Recommended supplements for immune support generally include Vitamins C and D.

  • Most adults can safely take 1,000 to 3,000 mg of Vitamin C daily in divided doses and 2,000 to 4,000 IU Vitamin D to strengthen immunity against a virus.  Children might take as much as half these doses for prevention. Talk to your doctor about the doses that are right for you and your family.
  • Herbal therapies that are often both effective against viral infection and safe for children and adults include elderberry, echinacea, garlic, and stinging nettle.
  • Additional supplements like higher dose vitamin A, licorice, skullcap, and zinc may also be effective against this year’s Coronavirus.

Talk to your naturopathic doctor about safe doses of these herbs and nutrients, especially if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. 

Symptoms of this virus include: fever, cough, and shortness of breath, and may develop within 2 and 14 days of exposure.

If you are sick and suspect coronavirus due to exposure risk, please stay home and away from those who are not ill. If you need medical care, contact your doctor for a telemedicine visit, or if your condition is serious with high fever that won’t come down with OTC remedies, head to an urgent care wearing a mask, and let them know you suspect the virus.  If you are having difficulty breathing, call 911 and let them know you suspect the virus.

At risk populations: 

Young children who participate in school or day care situations seem to be at a lower risk in general of serious effects like pneumonia from this Coronavirus, as they are commonly exposed to other coronaviruses on a regular basis and, therefore, have strong immunity to COVID-19.

Pregnant women are at slightly higher risk for complications due to reduction of immune competence during pregnancy, but no studies exist yet on any negative effect for baby.

Adults older than 30 may have a less effective immune response to coronavirus, with smokers over 70 being at the highest risk for complications related to lung damage.

Severity and prevalence of COVID-19 as of Feb 27, 2020

80% of people infected seem to experience mild symptoms. There is currently about a 2% mortality rate.

There are currently over 80,000 cases internationally, most in China, with new cases in China falling and International incidence rising. Italy has over 600 cases, and the US has between 14 and 15 cases now, with 445 people tested and 8,000 under monitoring.

References:

https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2749214

https://www.datapunk.net/covid19/antivirals.pl

https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2020/s0226-Covid-19-spread.html

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/steps-when-sick.html

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/cases-in-us.html