By Damon Raskin, M.D. | Special to the Palisadian-Post
Q:On a scale of 1 to 10, how worried do Palisadians need to be about coronavirus? Is it still safe to travel? Visit populated places like Disneyland? One day it seems that things have calmed down and the next, it’s headlining the news again.
Let us not panic! On a scale from 1 to 10, Palisadians should only be at a 1 on the “worry scale”—especially if you have not recently traveled to China.
In fact, the odds are much higher that you will be exposed to the influenza virus or run over by a speeding car down Palisades Drive than come down with the coronavirus.
As of last count, there have been 15 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in California, all of which were in persons who have either recently traveled to China or have been evacuated from a cruise ship in Japan. In total, there have only been 35 documented cases in the whole United States.
So far worldwide, there have been less than 600 deaths related to this new virus, compared to 60,000 American fatalities from the flu between 2017 and 2018.
A new viral outbreak is scary, don’t get me wrong. But we can’t let the things that are posted on Facebook or Twitter cause mass hysteria.
Infectious disease experts emphasize that this novel virus is less deadly than the SARS epidemic that raged back in 2002. The CDC is currently reporting that the immediate risk to the American public is low at this time. Isolation and quarantines have been effective measures so far for those travelers who have been in areas with high exposure risk.
The media has made many of us too apprehensive to even go to a movie theater or a restaurant. In fact, there have been many recent cases of profound xenophobia, especially against anyone who appears Asian and has a mild cough or a sneeze. This is profoundly disturbing.
The virus is spread through respiratory droplets when someone with the virus coughs or sneezes and you breathe it in. Rarely, it can be spread by touching a surface or object where the virus has been left, and then touching your mouth or eyes.
So, what can you do to protect yourself? Frequent hand washing is probably the best protective measure, and being cautious of touching your mouth or eyes unless you know your hands are clean.
Travel is still safe, but clearly avoid China at this time and listen to the travel warnings that the CDC has listed on its website for further recommendations.
Disneyland is fun for many of us and a nightmare for others … but do not let the coronavirus be the thing that stops you from going. That is like saying not to go to New York for fear of a terrorist attack. We still have to live our lives and just use common sense when it comes to protecting ourselves and our loved ones.
Although things may change on a daily or weekly basis, we are still well prepared for this type of infection. Don’t listen to everything that you see on the internet. Worry will do nothing but contribute to hair loss and insomnia.
As Frank Herbert, an American science fiction writer, once wrote: “Fear is the mind-killer.” So, relax and enjoy our beautiful town.
Have a question for Dr. Raskin? Send it in to email@example.com.
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