Suzanne Foote, RN, BScN, BScPod – NASP Infection Control Educator, February 18, 2020
Corona viruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses thought to originate from animals or birds, some of which, from time to time, can be transmitted to humans causing illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases. These are not new, but different forms of corona virus appear from time to time. Examples are SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Symptoms) 2003 which had quite an impact on North America, H1N1 flu (swine flu) 2009-2010 and MERS-CoV (Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome) 2013. The current virus as been named COVID-19 (Corona Virus Disease 2019) by the World Health Organization. As we hear in the news every day, this primarily affects people in China, with very small numbers in North America.
So, what is a corona virus and where does the name come from? The word corona refers to a crown or halo. In this case, the “corona” refers to an envelope on the outside of the virus which is easy to penetrate; however, to date there is no medication to prevent or kill this virus. The little projections seen in the picture are protein spikes. Corona viruses, like many other viruses, are spread by close personal contact.
Common signs of infection include, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe respiratory distress, and organ failure leading to death. The majority of severe cases occur in the elderly who already have one or more chronic health conditions.
Are we at risk? Statistics as of February 13, 2020 show fourteen cases in the United States and seven in Canada, one of whom has completely recovered. North America learned a lot from the SARS outbreak in 2003, helping with prevention and control of spreading COVID-19 today. Initial screening of anyone coming to North America from China is being done by testing for fever with or without a history of respiratory symptoms. Different sources show the incubation time for COVID-19 as ranging from one to twelve days, with a mean of five to six days, so the general time-frame for quarantine has been set at fourteen days to be on the safe side.
Corona virus is spread by droplet infection such as by sneezing and coughing. It can also be spread by touching surfaces that have been contaminated with the droplets, then bringing the hands up to the face. Basic infection prevention measures are called for, such as covering the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, e.g. into the elbow, and washing hands after blowing the nose etc. Hand washing is, of course, primary in any infection prevention or control.
Should we make changes to our pedicures? Of course, the answer is no, other than hyper-vigilance We use the same personal protection equipment. We still use the Spalding Classification of implements for sterilization and disinfection, clean counter and table tops, pedicure chairs etc. followed by a medium-level disinfectant and use low-level disinfectant/cleaner for common areas. NASP suggests using a disinfectant for the floor in the pedicure area because of the dust and debris that can accumulate from a pedicure. If we are sick, we stay home. Again, we follow the same practices as always when cleaning and disinfecting the pedicure foot bowl. With the precautions that are being taken today, the chances of anyone who has come in contact with, or is infected by this virus coming to us for a pedicure is practically non-existent. NASP always teaches to go above and beyond the basic.
Learn more in NASP’s Infection Control online class. “Educate. Elevate. Differentiate”
Written by: Suzanne Foote, RN, BScN, BScPod – NASP Infection Control Educator
World Health Organization (WHO)
US Centres for Disease Control (CDC)
Influenza Prevention & Control Canada (IPAC)