About Coronaviruses


Current Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19):

What is the status of Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) at Penn?

The most up to date information on University operations and guidance can be found here:

https://wellness.upenn.edu/coronavirus

What are current University of Pennsylvania actions to protect the health of our community?

  • Anyone who has not been self-isolating for at least 2 weeks prior to returning to campus must do so for 14 days before resuming their campus activities.
  • Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), anyone who is returning from international travel is required to self isolate for 14 days from their entrance into the United States.
  • Per the Pennsylvania Health Department, anyone entering a business in the state of Pennsylvania that serves the public is required to wear a mask.
  • Anyone on campus is required to wear a face mask.
  • Anyone who is not feeling well should refrain from coming to work or school and seek medical guidance as indicated.
  • Anyone who has had close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case must stay at home and self-isolate for 14 days after their last contact with the case even if they do not develop symptoms.
  • Contact tracing involves identifying anyone who has an infectious disease (the case) and their contacts (people who may have been exposed) and working with them to prevent the further transmission of the disease. For COVID-19, this includes asking cases to isolate and contacts to quarantine at home voluntarily.

What should I do if I have a cough, fever, or shortness of breath and/or I want to get tested?

  • Anyone with cough, fever, shortness of breath, or a known exposure to someone with COVID-19, should call Student Health Service at 215-746-3535. Our medical providers can walk you through that process.

What is Coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a large, very common, family of viruses. Most often, human coronaviruses commonly cause mild to moderate illness in people worldwide.

How is it transmitted?

Human coronaviruses most commonly spread from an infected person to others through

  • the air by coughing and sneezing
  • close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
  • touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes before washing your hands
  • rarely, fecal contamination

Signs and Symptoms

Known human coronaviruses normally cause mild respiratory infections, such as the common cold.

Symptoms associated with the novel infection (COVID-19) include fever and cough with possible difficulty breathing. If you’re feeling unwell, contact Student Health Service (215-746-3535) and select the option to speak with a nurse.

Treatment

No vaccine or specific treatment is currently available. Outside of seeking medical care, individuals who feel sick with fever, cough and difficulty breathing should stay home and away from others.  Before seeking medical care, call the medical provider about symptoms and travel history.

Prevention

The same prevention techniques work for all coronaviruses. You should:

  • Use good hand hygiene: Wash hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Limit the spread of germs and illness: Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your sleeve or elbow. Avoid sharing food, drinks, utensils, cups, vapes/JUULs, etc.
  • Stay home if you are feeling unwell. If you are not feeling better after 24 hours, seek medical guidance.

Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV)

What is Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV)

Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) is a respiratory disease caused by a virus (specifically coronavirus, CoV). MERS primarily affects the respiratory system with symptoms such as fever, cough and shortness of breath, but gastrointestinal symptoms have been reported as well.

The majority of infections are attributed to human-to-human contact, but camels are believed to be a major reservoir for MERS-CoV. The virus does not spread easily from person to person unless there is close contact, such as caring for, or living with, a symptomatic person.

How is it transmitted?

MERS-CoV is normally spread by an infected person through respiratory secretions including droplets and mucous. An infected person should avoid coughing, sneezing near close contacts, or sharing food, utensils, or drinks. MERS-CoV has most often spread through healthcare settings where there is close contact between infected persons and their caregivers. The virus does not appear to pass easily from person to person unless there is close contact, such as providing unprotected care to an infected patient. Researchers studying MERS have not seen any ongoing spreading of MERS-CoV in the community.

Signs and Symptoms

The clinical spectrum of MERS-CoV infection ranges from no symptoms (asymptomatic) or mild respiratory symptoms to severe acute respiratory disease and death. A typical presentation of MERS-CoV disease is fever, cough and shortness of breath, which in some cases may develop into pneumonia. Gastrointestinal symptoms, including diarrhea, have also been reported. Like many illnesses, MERS-CoV is most harmful to elders or those with underlying medical conditions. Pre-existing conditions from reported cases thus far include cancer, chronic lung disease, diabetes, and heart or kidney diseases. The time between when a person is exposed to MERS-CoV and when they start to have symptoms is usually about 5 or 6 days, but can range from 2-14 days.

Should you feel concerned about a potential exposure, contact 215-746-3535 and select the option to speak with a nurse.

Treatment

No vaccine or specific treatment is currently available. The U.S. National Institutes of Health is exploring the possibility of developing one. Medical care is supportive treatment to reduce and relieve symptoms. People should avoid contact with camels, drinking raw camel milk or camel urine, or eating meat that has not been properly cooked. Good hand hygiene (e.g. soap+water+30 seconds) and safe food practices (e.g. pasteurization and full cooking of meats) should be utilized.

Sources

Centers for Disease Control: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/

World Health Organization: https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus


Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV)

What is Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV)

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) is a respiratory disease caused by a virus (specifically coronavirus, CoV). SARS primarily affects the respiratory system with symptoms such as high fever, headache, body aches and dry cough, but gastrointestinal symptoms have been reported as well. There has not been a known reported case of SARS-CoV since 2004 in the entire world.

How is it transmitted?

The majority of infections are attributed to human-to-human contact. The virus does not spread easily from person to person unless there is close contact, such as caring for, or living with, a symptomatic person.

SARS-CoV is normally spread by an infected person through respiratory secretions including droplets and mucous. An infected person should avoid coughing, sneezing near close contacts, or sharing food, utensils, or drinks. SARS-CoV has most often spread through healthcare settings where there is close contact between infected persons and their caregivers. The virus does not appear to pass easily from person to person unless there is close contact, such as providing unprotected care to an infected patient. SARS-CoV can spread if an infected person touches a surface and contaminates it with infectious droplets, and then another person touches the contaminated surface, and then their mouth, nose or eye(s). As mentioned above, there has not been a known reported case of SARS-CoV since 2004.

Signs and Symptoms

SARS-CoV will typically begin with a high fever and then have symptoms like a headache, body ache and some mild respiratory symptoms. Gastrointestinal symptoms, including diarrhea, have also been reported (in 10-20 percent of patients). Someone infected with SARS may develop a dry cough after 2-7 days. Like many illnesses, SARS-CoV is most harmful to elders or those with underlying medical conditions. The incubation period, or time from being exposed to SARS-CoV and then showing symptoms, is 2-7 days, but could be as long as 14 days.

Should you feel concerned about a potential exposure, contact 215-746-3535 and select the option to speak with a nurse.

Treatment

No vaccine or specific treatment is currently available, but the CDC recommends that patients be treated similar to any serious community-acquired atypical pneumonia. Good hand hygiene (e.g. soap+water+30 seconds) and not touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unclean hands should be utilized to help protect oneself.

Sources

Centers for Disease Control: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/

World Health Organization: https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus


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(updated 6/23/2020)