COVID-19

COVID-19

Have a question about coronavirus, also known as COVID-19? Here are answers from our experts.

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Question:

“If a person’s antibody IgG and IgM came back positive, are they able to spread the virus because of the IGM result?”

Answer:

Testing shows us a snapshot of what is happening with a person and his/her course of disease. The two types of antibody tests are looking for a particular type of immune response.

When we are exposed to a pathogenic microbe, our immune system has two ways to defeat it.

The first is called the innate response. This response is encoded in our DNA as a human.

It is nearly the same for all of us (with minor differences). This response causes inflammation. It is non-specific and only reacts to each pathogen based on its particular type.

For example, all bacteria are treated the same. It cannot distinguish Streptococcus pyogenes from Staphylococcus aureus. It doesn’t distinguish an adenovirus from the Ebola virus.

Most of the time, this innate response kills the invading microbe. When it doesn’t, that is when we see symptoms of a disease.

When the innate response can’t destroy all of the microbes, then we see the adaptive response.

The adaptive response is specific. This response is different in every individual.

We have a complex immune genetic system to take gene segments and piece them together to create an entirely new gene. It’s called somatic recombination. Our germline DNA is pieced together to give us a new never before seen gene to fight a specific pathogen.

That gene is then turned into a protein and made into an antibody for the specific pathogen.

The first antibody made when fighting that response is IgM. If this is found in a test, it indicates the person is in the early stages of the specific response to the virus. IgG is made later, about 14 days into the infection, in the specific response – and is often the antibody that allows our immune response to remember the infection (it is made for a few months to years after an infection).

If a person tests positive for IgG, that would suggest the individual was infected sometime in the past. If he or she is symptomatic, the person would still be able to transmit the SARS CoV-2 to others, but in most cases the IgG test would be positive after the disease has run its course.

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Question:

“If a person had COVID-19 in the past, let’s say in February, and takes the test again in May, is the test going to show negative? In other words you could have had coronavirus in the past and it would test negative now? So, the only way to find out if you had it in the past would be the antibody test, correct?”

Answer:

One test is the molecular swab (Polymerase Chain Reaction – PCR), which detects genetic RNA from SARS-CoV-2, also known as the COVID-19 virus. The other test is a blood IgG antibody, which determines if someone was previously infected, or was recently exposed to the virus 10-21 days ago.

If you had COVID-19 infection in February, the PCR swab test would probably be negative now, and the blood IgG antibody test would probably be positive (indicating prior infection). Recent data out of South Korea suggest that if the repeat PCR swab test is positive, that may be detecting dead virus, rather than indicating reinfection. And the positive IgG antibodies may provide some protection.

Because the pandemic is only a few months old, there is no data on long-term immune response.

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Question:

“When older adults fly, can they get tested upon arrival so they don’t need to be secluded for 14 days?”

Answer:

The tests that are available on the market are antibody tests and SARS CoV-2 genome tests.

The antibody tests show if a person is having an adaptive or specific response to the virus; the genome test is indicative of an active infection, as viral RNA is present. These tests, particularly the genome test, give a snapshot of what is happening on that day.

Individuals who are exposed to SARS CoV-2 won’t show symptoms for five to seven days, on average. A test upon landing would not be sufficient to say that the individual is not in the incubation period of COVID-19.

The person could have been exposed to the virus on the plane. This is why the 14-day quarantine is recommended.

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Question:

“My husband and I tested positive in March, then after two weeks, we had no symptoms. We got retested last week and are both positive. Why would this happen?”

Answer:

We assume the tests were molecular PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction), which detects genetic RNA from the COVID-19 virus. If you and your husband don’t have any symptoms or fever, this implies both are now asymptomatic carriers. It is not known how long you will remain a carrier without symptoms, and that may depend in part how long protective immunity will last.

I recommend you and your husband consider blood tests for IgG antibodies to SARS-CoV-2.

It is unknown if both are still contagious, and that’s why it’s important to wear face masks in public and continue social distancing. While the evidence on reinfection is evolving, current data and experience from previous viruses without substantial seasonal mutation do not support this hypothesis.

Because the COVID-19 pandemic is only a few months old, there is no data on long-term immune response. It is also controversial when asymptomatic carriers may return back to work. I recommend both of you follow up with your primary care physician, and if necessary, consult an infectious disease specialist.

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Question:

“I have read that scientists are working on testing community spread by testing water from the sewer. Would it be possible to develop individual urine tests (akin to pregnancy testing) that could inform a person positive or negative for the virus on a daily basis?”

Answer:

There are only two kinds of tests for SARS CoV 2, a genomic RNA test and an antibody test. The RNA test is looking for viral genetic material in patients and the antibody test is looking for the presence of an immune response to the virus.

SARS CoV 2 has been detected in feces of infected patients, but it is not clear whether that virus is infectious. In addition, waste water has been shown to contain the virus, but standard municipal sanitation practices or use of a septic tank has been shown to inactivate the virus.

Urine contains waste products from the human body that can be dissolved in water. Hormones, sugar, vitamins and certain proteins can be found in urine. RNA and DNA can be found in urine as well.

Urine tests, such as those you mention in your question, require a high concentration of the substance to be in the urine.

A recent study out of China was able to detect SARS CoV 2 in urine of one patient out of 17 with confirmed disease. Other peer reviewed studies were unable to find viral RNA in urine. These studies used a technique called RT-PCR to detect the viral RNA. This technique amplifies minutely small quantities of viral RNA and brings the concentration up to detectable levels.

Who knows what the future holds? That is the beauty of science. But at present, we do not have the ability to detect the minuscule amount of viral RNA in urine without amplifying it first.

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Question:

“I am a cashier at Walmart. I had something similar to COVID-19 in December, however no breathing problems. Am I safe to visit my 2-week-old grandson? I shower, wash my hair and wear clean clothes and wash my hands when visiting. I also work daily, sanitize frequently and wash my hands every chance I can. I also wear a mask when working and visiting. Am I putting my grandson in danger?”

Answer:

Social distancing is hard and it must be truly difficult when a new family member is born.

When we are first born and until we are about a year old, our immune systems are immature. The responses we build to microbes takes time and the littlest among us have not been around long enough to have the same responses that adults or even older children do. This makes infants more susceptible to infections.

In a recent study out of China, of more than 2,100 children with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 in between late December and early February showed that about 11% of infants had severe or critical illness. Children in other age groups had lower rates of severe or critical illness (about 7% for children ages 1 to 5, 4% for ages 6 to 10, 4% for ages 11 to 15).

Other studies are showing an inflammatory illness that may be linked to COVID-19. This response that is seen in children is severe and rare. It has to deal with an immune response that leads to a cytokine storm. Our innate response, the one we are born with, has the ability to make our blood vessels leaky in order to let white blood cells into our tissues where the infection is. It does this by releasing cytokines, proteins that allow the immune system to communicate with cells and tissue of the body. This response is usually localized, but in some children it becomes systemic causing the blood vessels all over the body to be leaky; this results in severe symptoms such as organ failure and shock.

From your question, it appears that you are doing things to reduce your risk of infection. If you feel that you had COVID-19 in December, I urge you to request an antibody test. This could help determine if you did have COVID-19.

With respect to visiting your newborn grandson, I support respecting the community directed stay-at-home orders. He is still developing his immune system and is in a risk group because of his age. You and your family can speak with the child’s pediatrician to see what the case counts are in your area and then determine what level of risk is acceptable to you as a family.

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Question:

“Can you be a carrier of COVID-19 and not have any symptoms – as in you’re immune to the virus but still carry and spread the virus?”

Answer:

Yes, there are asymptomatic carriers, however no one can truly determine the impact of asymptomatic cases on spread until there’s more testing.

Can these people who are completely asymptomatic, who never develop any symptoms, transmit the infection? That’s still an open question, and no one knows for sure. Experts say these carriers without symptoms make it even more important for people to wear face masks in public.

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Question:

“I was really sick with upper respiratory turned into bronchitis turned to pneumonia in late December to middle of February. Is it possible I had COVID? Would an antibody test still show antibodies if I did?”

Answer:

When did SARS CoV-2 emerge? That is one of the big questions of 2020.

Science uses a method called the molecular clock to determine when new pathogens emerge.

SARS CoV-2 is an RNA virus. It uses an enzyme to copy itself called RNA dependent RNA polymerase. This enzyme is sloppy in its copying. The rate of mistakes it makes is able to be tracked.

Using this technology, scientists at the Imperial College of London collaborated with the World Health Organization to determine that SARS CoV-2 emerged between Nov. 6 and Dec. 13 in Wuhan, China. Couple the new respiratory virus with the ability to be anywhere in the world in 24 hours and ...

Testing can help sort out whether a person has recovered from COVID-19. The test that will determine if a person has had an immune response to the infection is the antibody test. IgG antibodies are present in a person after she or he has had an infection that resulted in an adaptive (specific) immune response.

If you are curious about your status, you can seek out an IgG antibody test. The more data that can be acquired about positive cases, in any stage, will help answer the question of when. It is possible, however, that we will never know when it emerged.

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Question:

“I wanted to pass out roses on Mother’s Day. Can you get COVID-19 by someone holding the stem that has COVID-19 or will it not affect flowers?”

Answer:

We know that SARS-CoV-2 is viable on many surfaces for a few hours to a few days. However, plants are not one of the surfaces that have been tested.

Since the virus is spread via respiratory droplets, it is more likely that someone with COVID-19 would transmit the infection when they coughed near you, not from touching the flower.

As with anything we touch, it is good to practice hand hygiene and avoid touching your face until you have washed your hands.

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Question:

“Is it safe for my young children to visit grandparents? We have not left the house since March 12, aside from work. My husband and I are both health care workers. Grandma has also been self-isolating at home. Now that some restrictions are being lifted, we were wondering if family visits are OK. My 2-year-old misses his grandparents terribly.”

Answer:

Social distancing is hard on our mental health. It can be even harder for young children.

Stay-at-home orders are in place because of the R0 – the number of how infectious a virus is. If the average R0 in the population is greater than 1, the infection will spread exponentially. If R0 is less than 1, the infection will spread out be it slowly, and it will eventually die out. For SARS CoV-2 that number is 2.5-3. This means that one infected individual can infect up to 3 others.

If a person is expressing symptoms of COVID-19, we know to stay socially distant; however, studies have shown that asymptomatic transmission is occurring. This means that some individuals could be spreading the virus and appear to be healthy, making it difficult for anyone to know if they have been exposed or not.

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Question:

“Do current COVID-19 tests tell you what stage of the disease you’re in? Two family members were tested, with someone going to their home and drawing blood – not just a nasal sswab. The next day, one of them was told they were at the acute stage of the virus and that the other was at the end stage of COVID. Why these different tests?”

The answer:

Molecular testing identifies people with the virus, and an antibody test can tell whether someone has been previously infected.

Qualitative real-time reverse transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) nasopharyngeal swab is either positive or negative. If positive, this indicates that RNA from the virus was detected, and that the patient is considered infected with the virus and presumed to be contagious.

There are several types of COVID-19 antibody blood tests.

One is a blood finger prick IgG/IgM Rapid Test which takes 10-15 minutes for the results and are either negative or positive (a colored line appears, just as a pregnancy test). The IgM test line is usually positive (colored) four days after becoming infected with the virus, but “false negatives” can occur if within less than four days, because the incubation period is estimated to be between 1-14 days.

IgG antibodies are usually detected (colored line) 7-21 days after symptoms develop, and this test also identifies if someone has been previously infected.

IgG testing can also be done on a lab machine – which requires a tube of blood, and takes approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour. The results are reported as positive or negative based upon a cutoff numerical result.

Therefore, a positive IgM antibody test result indicates early COVID-19 disease, and IgG indicates a later phase, or someone who has been previously infected. Antibody testing has received Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the FDA. Antibody testing is being reviewed by the FDA, and final FDA approval is pending.

• • • • •

Question:

“What is the possibility of getting virus from meat with the problems the packing plants are having?”

Answer:

SARS CoV-2 is transmitted by respiratory droplets. While there are many reports of workers at meat packing plants getting sick with COVID-19, there are no reports of transmission via food.

It is good to remember that SARS CoV-2 is able to be viable on plastic for a few days. It is good to follow hygiene practices to prevent the spread: wipe your packages down and wash your hands after putting your groceries away.

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Question:

“My wife is returning to the United States from Warsaw, Poland. She is taking a train from Warsaw across the Polish/German border to Frankfort, Germany, directly to its airport. She is an American citizen with a valid passport, a plane ticket, and has submitted all required forms to the Polish government and U.S. Consulate in Warsaw and Berlin.

“When she arrives at her hub U.S. airport, she will be screened at Washington Dulles, and after screening is advised (not ordered) to self-quarantine upon her arrival at her ultimate destination, Indianapolis, Indiana. Is there an appropriate location where she should go for 14 days to self-quarantine alone? I assume she cannot go to our residence where our family, children and me, are already in self-quarantine.

“Finally, if I can arrange for her to be tested for the COVID-19 virus either serologically (finger-prick testing) and/or nasal swab testing, and the results are negative for the coronavirus, is it then prudent for her to come to her family at our residence and self-quarantine with us?”

Answer:

Ideally, she should self-quarantine (self-isolate) in a private apartment. If a private residence is not available and she wants to stay with her family, then she should self-isolate in a private room (basement or other private portion of the residence), and use a private bathroom if possible.

Whoever else lives in your home should also stay at home.

If she tests negative, she still needs to self-quarantine/self-isolate for 14 days in a private room and use a private bathroom, because the incubation period for the virus is estimated to be between one and 14 days. After 14 days, if she has had no known exposure to a confirmed case, and she remains asymptomatic, she can stop the self-quarantine.

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Question:

“I had severe symptoms in March, was hospitalized and tested. The test came back positive on March 16. My husband had mild symptoms, but he wasn’t hospitalized nor tested. As an essential worker, I had to be re-tested in order to go back to work, so on April 23 my husband and I got tested. I was negative and he was positive. Now what do we do?"

Answer:

The CDC recommends two strategies for returning to work. One is a test-based strategy that states you should have two consecutive negative molecular (genome) tests in which the swabbing has been done greater than 24 hours apart. The other is a non-testing based strategy where you must be fever free for 3 days and be at least 7 days removed from when symptoms started.

The CDC also recommends that an individual with a laboratory confirmed case who is asymptomatic should wait 10 days before returning to work.

This situation is in the in-between. You are negative, but your husband is positive. If we take the guidelines and adapt them to your situation, it may be prudent for you to wait the 10 days before returning to work. At the very least, it is prudent to be sure your husband is fever free for 3 days and that it has been 7 days since his symptoms started before you return to work.

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Question:

“Can coronavirus testing be done anonymously, similar to STD testing?”

Answer:

At this time, all COVID-19 testing requires an order from a health care provider, and the specimen must be collected by someone trained to do it, such as a nurse. The ordering physician shares the test results with the patient. So it is not a fully anonymous process, currently.

But health care providers work diligently to protect your personal health information, so you can feel confident getting a test if it is recommended.

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Question:

“I am a 67-year-old woman, active and in good health. I rent my basement to a traveling nurse who is working at a local ER. She has already had one COVID-19 scare and was quarantined until her results came in – thankfully negative. However, she could of course become positive at any time. Should I be concerned?”

Answer:

If this nurse is compliant with Department of Health and CDC recommendations including personal protective equipment, proper hand washing hygiene, and if she is following hospital ER infection protocols, the risks to others including yourself should be minimal.

You have already established separate living areas if the nurse is in your basement. Practice social distancing and good hand washing, and frequently clean surfaces you may both touch. I also recommend you both wear face masks when in the same area of the house.

• • • • •

Question:

“I am hearing more and more that this virus causes clotting in the body – causing strokes and organ failure due to bodies being riddled with clots. But we can’t take NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as Ibuprofen, which have been known to thin the blood and prevent clotting. What can we do to prevent the clotting aspect of this virus?”

Answer:

We have not yet seen the severe clotting described by the reader, or deaths attributed to clots or pulmonary embolism, but we recognize this is a complication.

Most likely, this level of clotting is due to sepsis brought on by a very severe form of the infection. In the hospital, patients may be prescribed a medication, such as heparin to avoid clotting. For the average patient at home with a mild or moderate case of COVID, anti-clotting therapy doesn’t seem to be indicated.

If you have a personal history or family history of blood clots, this is important information to share with your primary care physician or your emergency care provider. With COVID-19 or any condition where you may be inactive due to illness, it’s a good idea to try to move around a bit to keep blood flowing, even if it’s just getting up to walk around the couch.”

• • • • •

Question:

“I’m a 50-year-old male with severe asthma and hypertension. Both diseases are well controlled with medications. I realize that I have two high risk factors for COVID-19 complications if I became infected. However, I never get sick. Given that I have a strong immune system, does that make me any less likely of becoming infected with COVID-19?”

Answer:

It is important that your asthma and hypertension are both well controlled, and that you have a good immune system. Patients that are immunosuppressed or immunocompromised are at a higher risk of infection and complications.

However, there are other important contributing factors including behavior (contact length and frequency), virulence of the virus and environment (crowding, poor air quality and pollution). Therefore, immune status is not the only determining factor whether or not you become infected with COVID-19.

• • • • •

Question:

“I’m 67 and was diagnosed with the virus about two weeks ago. I’m quarantined and have shortness of breath, but have been to emergency room twice and all tests are good. How long does it take for symptoms to subside?”

Answer:

There are no specific answers for duration of illness or exact recovery time, and each patient is different. Those with milder symptoms may recover in 7-10 days. Others with more moderate or severe symptoms may take 3 to 4 weeks.

I also read medical reports of patients who were hospitalized with significant complications and were subsequently discharged, but were still not completely recovered at 10 weeks or longer.

I certainly hope that your symptoms resolve soon, and it is very important that you follow up with your treating physician.

• • • • •

Question:

“Does spraying the soles of my shoes with bleach without wiping kill the coronavirus instantly, or does It take some time? Is there a better way to clean them to prevent the virus from spreading into the house?”

Answer:

COVID-19 is spread via respiratory droplets and anything that those droplets get on. The term for this is fomite transmission.

Research has shown that the virus can survive on surfaces for a few hours to a few days, depending on the surface. A disinfectant such as bleach will destroy the virus. You may spray with a bleach solution (1/3 cup of bleach per gallon of water) or use a household disinfectant spray (such as Lysol) and allow the shoes to dry. This can take a few minutes.

Another option that can be done is to wipe the shoes down with a hydrogen peroxide wipe (it only takes 30 seconds for these wipes to kill). Lastly, you may use a 70% alcohol-based solution to wipe the shoes down and allow them to dry (this can take up to a minute).

If you are worried about bringing the virus into the house, you may want to spray the shoes outside your home and bring them in after the 30-180 seconds has passed.

• • • • •

Question:

“Should we be concerned, as we soon turn on our air conditioning, about airborne spread of coronavirus?”

Answer:

COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, is droplet transmission. The airborne droplets travel through the air and can make it about six feet. When you add an air conditioner, you are adding strong airflow into the equation. This would allow the airborne droplets to travel farther.

If you are using the air conditioner in your home and no one in your household is sick, then you don’t need to worry about transmission. What can be of concern is, if social distancing is lessened and you are in a public building with air conditioning with a symptomatic (or asymptomatic) COVID-19 patient, the six-foot rule may not help. The air flow from the air conditioner would allow the droplets to transfer farther than the average of six feet.

• • • • •

Question:

"Can I catch COVID-19 from my cat or my dog?"

Answer:

There have been some studies that are looking into whether domesticated cats and dogs can get SARS-CoV2. These results indicated SARS-CoV2 could replicate in cats and that SARS-CoV2 could be transmitted via respiratory droplets between cats, though it appears that it is not highly contagious between cats.

They also show that dogs are not really susceptible to the infection.

These studies show that cats can catch it from you, but none have shown that cats can transmit the virus to humans. That work has not been done, so the answers is we don't know yet.

The best approach right now for cat owners is to keep their indoor cats inside and their outdoor cats outside.

• • • • •

Question:

“I would like to know if it’s normal for a person to experience symptoms (day 1) and feel better over the next few days, only to experience symptoms on days 10-11 that are far worse.”

The answer:

Patients may have a mild common cold-like illness and/or an uncomplicated upper respiratory viral infection with symptoms such as fever, fatigue, cough, muscle pain, sore throat, shortness of breath, nasal congestion or headache. Rarely, patients may initially have diarrhea, nausea and vomiting.

The above symptoms may improve, or progress in 7-10 days to a severe viral pneumonia leading to acute respiratory distress depending upon the immune status of the patient, age, and other chronic underlying medical conditions.

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Question:

"With summer and warmer weather coming soon, can the coronavirus be spread by mosquitos?"

Answer:

Infectious disease transmission types are two basic categories: Direct (person to person) and indirect (which involves an intermediate carrier). Indirect transmission can come from fomites (inanimate objects that transmit disease), vehicles (food and water) or vectors (living things that transmit disease).

COVID-19 (SARS-CoV 2) is spread by airborne droplets, a form of direct transmission. That means it is spread by coughing, sneezing and talking. There are all kinds of modes of transmission – ways that infectious diseases spread – but this one is only airborne droplets.

• • • • •

Question:

“If someone is asymptomatic yet positive for COVID-19, how long would they be considered contagious?”

Answer:

If you test positive:

• Notify your close contacts and let them know they should quarantine at home for 14 days. This includes your family members.

• Self-isolate in your home until each of the following conditions is met:

1. It has been at least 7 days since your symptoms first appeared, AND

2. It has been at least 3 days since you have not had a fever (without using fever-reducing medications) and your respiratory symptoms (cough, shortness of breath) are improving.

• • • • •

Question:

“A vaccine for COVID-19 might be available in 12 months. How helpful will it be if this coronavirus mutates by then, as the flu does yearly?”

Answer:

SARS-CoV2 or COVID-19 is definitely mutating. The question is whether that mutation will happen in a part of the virus that effects transmissibility or disease course (symptom severity).

Coronaviruses have an ability that Influenza doesn’t, they proofread their genomes before they package it into a new virus. This means that SARS-CoV2 mutates at 1/3 to 1/2 the rate of Influenza.

Variants may happen with this virus, but with the slow rate of change individuals will be protected for years after acquiring the infection or getting vaccinated. This is different from the months of protection seen with influenza.

• • • • •

Question:

“My daughter and her entire family of five have been extremely ill with all of the symptoms of this virus including temperatures as high as 104. My daughter, an X-ray tech, and her husband, a first responder, were tested at separate times and separate sites and to our surprise, the results were negative. My daughter was also tested for influenza which was negative. Is there another virus going around that mimics COVID? Should their results be trusted? Have there been false negative results?”

Answer:

With rapid influenza tests, there can be 20-30% “false negative” results. Therefore, if you believe an individual has acute influenza, and a negative rapid flu test, you should still treat for flu.

There are other viruses going around including adenovirus, parainfluenza, and RSV (respiratory Syncytial virus). There is a viral panel test that a physician may order which tests for these other viruses.

Regarding COVID-19 testing, the PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) which detects RNA from the COVID-19 virus is very accurate, but a negative result does not rule out the possibility of COVID-19 based on the timing of the exposure and the incubation period of the virus.

So a negative result should not be used as the solo basis for patient management decisions.

• • • • •

Question:

"I have rheumatoid arthritis. Am I considered high risk for contracting COVID-19?"

Answer:

The short answer is yes. Autoimmune disorders that are a result of inflammatory conditions put the individual at a greater risk for all types of infectious diseases.

With RA specifically, individuals can be on immunosuppressive drugs. This can subdue the non-specific immune response to viruses. Science doesn’t know if you are at a greater risk of contracting the virus, but you are at a greater risk of severe symptoms if you do.

For more information on inflammatory autoimmune disorders and COVID-19, I suggest you check out this website: www.creakyjoints.org.

• • • • •

Question:

"Does the route of transmission affect symptoms? Is it possible that the lungs could be spared if a person contracted the virus via the eye or digestive tract instead of through the air?"

Answer:

Viruses are specific to a certain cell type. Think of it like the key for your front door – only one key will open that door, that key is specific to your door. Viruses are like the key. If the right lock isn’t present on the cell, the virus can’t get in.

So when we think about route of transmission, the virus is transmitted in the way that will best get it to the cell that it wishes to infect. For COVID-19, its specific cells are found in the part of the lungs called the alveoli; these cells help with gas exchange. So if you come in contact with the virus, it will seek out the specific lung cells to infect. If it gets in your eye, the ears, nose and throat are connected and the virus could get to the lungs. If it comes in via the digestive tract, it is harder for the virus to get to your lungs.

• • • •

Question:

“Can a person have coronavirus and flu virus simultaneously?”

Answer:

It is possible to get two infections at the same time. For example, you can have a common cold, from a virus, and that can lead to a bacterial infection in the sinuses. Yes, you can get the flu and COVID-19 at the same time. It is recommended that if you haven’t gotten your flu shot yet that you do so now. It won’t protect you from COVID-19, but it will keep you from getting the flu.

Symptoms are similar for both illnesses with the major difference being that COVID-19 causes shortness of breath due to the viral pneumonia.

• • • • •

Questions came from readers of The Tribune-Democrat in Johnstown, Pa. Most answers were provided by either Jill Henning, PhD and associate professor of biology at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, or Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer with Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber, Pa. This Q&A will be updated regularly. Questions may be sent to tribdem@tribdem.com.

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