Caution Urged as Officials Continue to Monitor Coronavirus
By David Doolittle

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Health officials continue to monitor the outbreak of coronavirus COVID-19, but “the risk for all Texans remains low,” the Department of State Health Services (DSHS) said.

As of Wednesday, six cases have been confirmed in Texas: One patient who arrived Feb. 7 at a military base in San Antonio on a government-chartered flight from Wuhan, China, where the outbreak started, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said, and five others who arrived at the military base from a cruise ship Feb. 17. All of the patients have been on federal quarantine since arriving and have had no exposure to the general public in the U.S., CDC said.

If your patients have questions or concerns about COVID-19, DSHS and CDC have plenty of information and resources for you.

The CDC has published an FAQ specifically for pregnant women that addresses topics such as transmission during pregnancy, transmission through breast milk, and long-term health effects on infants.

The CDC website also includes information about symptoms and complications, prevention and treatment, and how the virus is transmitted. In addition, CDC has published a Hospital Preparedness Assessment Tool to help prepare for the possible arrival of patients with COVID-19.

Meanwhile, the DSHS website includes basic information about the virus, an FAQ, and guidance for health care professionals, laboratories, travelers, and more. DSHS also published an updated health alert on the coronavirus on Feb. 11.

Physicians and other health care workers should consider the coronavirus if a patient is showing symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath) after having traveled to mainland China within 14 days of symptom onset, updated CDC guidance says. Suspected cases should be reported to your local health department, CDC said.

The recommendations for infection control are similar for any patient showing symptoms of an airborne respiratory virus, and include:

  • Masking and isolating the patient behind a closed door;
  • Wearing protective gear (goggles, gown, respirator mask) when caring for the patient; and
  • Washing hands and disinfecting equipment and surfaces that may have come in contact with the patient.

If you have any questions or would like more information specific to the coronavirus, contact DSHS at coronavirus@dshs.texas.gov.

In addition, DSHS has created a hotline staffed by nurses and epidemiologists that is open to the public and to health care professionals. The hotline is open from 7 am to 6 pm (CT) Monday through Friday at (877) 570-9779.

 

Last Updated On

February 27, 2020

David Doolittle

Editor

(512) 370-1385

Dave Doolittle is editor of Texas Medicine and Texas Medicine Today. Dave grew up in Austin, where he attended culinary school as well as the University of Texas. He spent years covering Central Texas for the Austin American-Statesman newspaper. He is the father of two girls, a proud Longhorn, and an avid motorsports fan.

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