Lessons from pandemics past

Before they knew the cause, our ancestors knew that if someone had smallpox, quarantine and fire were the only ways to help prevent its spread.



March 30, 2020 - 9:56 AM

Dr. Andrew Ellsworth
Praire Docs

When I come home from a day at the clinic and hospital, there is no better feeling than my children running up to give me a big hug. For the past couple of weeks, I have had to remind them to stop, and just do an air hug until I have had a chance to change clothes and shower. The idea is to wash away any germs and decrease the risk of getting my family sick after working with several patients and sick people during the day. Maybe these efforts are too much, or maybe they are not enough. 

The Covid-19 virus spreads through respiratory droplets, from talking, coughing, or sneezing, and appears to also spread via a fecal-oral route. The fecal-oral route is how the stomach flu often spreads, and many of us know how easily that circulates through families and daycares. Someone who has been to the bathroom may touch a doorknob or a serving spoon, which someone else touches before eating, and they may become infected. That’s why we need to wash our hands well and avoid touching our face and our food.  

Unfortunately, the virus can spread from people that do not have symptoms, or before they have symptoms which is why, I worry, I may not be doing enough to protect my family from the one person who puts them at the biggest risk: me. Some doctors and nurses are deciding to avoid their families altogether and live in the garage or the basement when they come home. I haven’t decided to do that yet, but maybe I should, or maybe I will. 

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