There have been a lot of questions about the recent coronavirus which has many of you feeling concerned especially if you have an autoimmune condition such as crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis and are on immunosuppressants. So, let me tell you what we know so far about the coronavirus and it’s implications for IBD patients.
Right so first off what is the coronavirus? Well coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause illnesses in people. You may have also heard of the SARS virus and this also belongs to the family of coronavirus. The coronavirus which everyone is now talking about is a new strain of this which is known as COVID-19 and the first outbreak occurred in December 2019 in Wuhan China.
The symptoms of the COVID-19 do range from mild to severe and can include fever, tiredness and a dry cough. You may also get your standard flu like symptoms of aches and pains, runny nose and a sore throat. These symptoms which people experience is also how it the virus is able to spread from person to person through small droplets from coughing, sneezing and exhalation. These droplets can land on objects or surfaces which others come into contact with and then they touch their mouth, nose or eyes which then starts the process of them catching the virus. It should be noted that this is one way it is thought that COVID-19 is spread and that there is ongoing research on how exactly it is transmitted.
At the moment there is no cure or vaccine but the general consensus on how you can prevent yourself getting it is by following basic hygiene principles. So, these include washing your hands with soap and water and use an alcohol-based sanitiser. If you have a cough or are sneezing is to cough or sneeze in a tissue and bin that immediately. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth as well as avoiding close contact with people who are unwell. If you are unwell then stay at home if you have a fever, cough or difficulty breathing and call the NHS 111 service if you are concerned.
So, what does all this have to do with crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis? Well if you are on medication that suppress your immune system like azathioprine, methotrexate and biologics you may be concerned because your immune system isn’t at full capacity. It’s been suggested that if you are on immunosuppressants that you are not at an increased risk of catching COVID-19 but you may be more susceptible to complications from the virus is you do get it.
Everything I have spoke about in this video can be found on the World Health Organisation, NHS and Crohn’s and Colitis UK websites so I’ll leave the links here:
The information presented here is as from 04/03/2020 - please note that new information may be provided after this video has been been published.
Just remember to make sure you keep up good personal hygiene and use common sense if you are feel unwell.