Novel Coronavirus: A Wake-up Call for Best Practices in Preventing Pathogen Transmission

Corona virus disease (COVID-19), Moving towards pandemic status, represents the one of great concerns in modern life – the evolution of new human viruses that can be spread via respiratory tract.

From the other pathogens, the physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, and administrative staff can take tangible steps could help to prevent the spread of disease that could harm our most vulnerable populations. The all Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services has issued guidelines for infection control and calling all health care providers to activate infection control practices. COVID-19 is caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, abbreviated as SARS-CoV-2. As a positive-strand, enveloped RNA virus, SARS-CoV-2 is another coronavirus like the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) A virus that first appeared in China in 2002, infecting around 8,000 people worldwide and resulting in about 750 deaths in total. The major lesson learned from the SARS outbreak was how easily these coronaviruses can spread. To avoid additional spread of these viruses requires effective detection, protection of caregivers (eg. hand washing, protective clothing, and masks for infected individuals), and disinfection of health care facilities and equipment. These measures are a must for all physical therapy clinics.

There is still much to learn about the new virus, including how it easily spreads. Based on what we currently know about other coronaviruses, SARS-CoV-2 is spread mainly from person to person through respiratory droplets among close contacts, especially under crowded conditions. It is easy to see how the first cases of COVID-19 appeared in Wuhan, China, a large city about the size of Chicago last December. However, this new virus is not the only airborne virus that can cause epidemics — think influenza.

In addition to taking precautions to avoid aerosolization (the production of airborne particles containing an infectious virus or bacteria), we must disinfect surfaces touched by infected people. Thus, in physical therapy clinics, in anticipation of future patients being infected by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, we must think holistically in terms of clinic disinfection and protection.