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As a new coronavirus causes widespread illness around the world, many people are wondering how to protect themselves and their loved ones. Here's what we know about COVID-19 thus far -- with a reminder that this is an emerging situation, and new information about the 2019 coronavirus and its impact is coming out every day.

What is COVID-19?

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory disease caused by a new strain of coronavirus. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, only a few of which can infect humans.

Santa Fe High School, Texas: 10 dead, 13 Injured (5/18/18). Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School, Florida: 17 dead, 14 wounded (2/14/18). Texas First Baptist Church massacre, 26 dead, 20 injured (11/5/17). Las Vegas Strip massacre, 58 dead, 546 injured (10/1/17)  San Bernadino, California: 14 dead, 21 wounded. Colorado Springs, Colorado: 3 dead; 9 injured. Newton, Massachusetts: 28 dead (20 elementary students and 6 educators, in addition to the shooter’s mother and the shooter), 2 wounded. Tucson, Arizona: 6 dead, 13 wounded. I could go on… and on… and on.

Have you ever had to decide whether to start taking a medication, choose a course of treatment for cancer, undergo a surgical procedure, or have a screening test?

Towards the end of a routine office visit last year, my daughter’s pediatrician said he'd like to start talking about vaccinating her against human papillomavirus (HPV), the virus that causes genital warts and can lead to cervical and other cancers.

As the 2018 flu season continues in the United States, one thing is becoming apparent: It’s a doozy. On February 9, health officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that people with flu-like symptoms were seeking care at clinics and emergency departments at a level not seen since the 2009 flu.

Pregnant woman

During and after pregnancy, every aspect of women's physical health is examined. They are poked, prodded, weighed, and measured. They are advised to avoid raw cheese, caffeine, alcohol, ibuprofen, aspirin, and countless other things that potentially could harm them or their offspring. But women’s mental health during pregnancy and early motherhood rarely receives as much attention as their physical health -- an odd focus, considering that postpartum depression is the most common complication of pregnancy. New guidelines issued by the U.S.

Zika virus under microscope

On February 1, 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the spread of Zika virus a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC), an official designation that indicated a high level of concern about the rapid spread of the virus. The WHO declaration, followed a May 1 alert from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) about the spread of Zika virus in Brazil – and a simultaneous increase in babies born with birth defects.

Listeria under microscope

On April 20, 2015, Blue Bell Creameries issued a voluntary recall for all of its products, including ice cream, frozen yogurt, sherbet, and frozen snacks, due to possible contamination with the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes. The company had found the bacterium in samples of Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream half gallons produced on March 17, 2015 and March 27, 2015. L. monocytogenes can cause a serious, sometimes fatal infection called listeriosis, especially in the young, the elderly, people with weakened immune systems, and pregnant women.

baby getting immunization injection

If you’ve ever sat through the night with a small child sickened by whooping cough (pertussis), you know what fear is. Infants and children with pertussis cough repeatedly until no air is left in the lungs, then suck in air with loud “whoop” as they literally fight for every breath. And recent trends in pertussis incidence should concern every parent: After years of decline, whooping cough is making a comeback in the United States and in other countries around the globe. Why is pertussis – a vaccine-preventable disease – making a comeback, and what can you do to protect your family?

couple discussing

Open enrollment for federal and state health insurance marketplaces began on Saturday, November 15. Whether you’re one of the 8 million people who enrolled in a health insurance plan through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act ("the ACA") -- Obamacare -- in 2014, or this is your first time exploring the marketplace, you’ll need to take a few things to ensure that you and your family have the health coverage you need for 2015. Here’s what you need to know about enrolling in the 2015 health insurance marketplace.

lady with a cold

You wake up in the middle of the night with a scratchy, sore throat, runny nose, fever, and cough. Is it a cold or, or is it the flu? Both the common cold and flu are respiratory illnesses, and they often have similar symptoms. It can be hard to tell them apart. Your doctor can run a flu test by swabbing the inside of your nose or back of your throat, which is about the only way to know for certain.

Ebola Virus Illustration

We don't often cover breaking news at ehealthMD, because our goal is to provide reliable health information -- and breaking news is often anything but reliable. But we're making an exception for a critical Ebola virus-related alert from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC). CDC officials now have reason to believe that Amber Vinson, the second nurse who contracted Ebola while treating Thomas Duncan at Texas Presbyterian Health Hospital, may have started showing symptoms of Ebola as early as Friday, October 10, the day she flew from Dallas to Cleveland.

Healthcare workers being trained in use of personal protective equipment during Ebola epidemic

In March 2014, a few public health officials and virologists expressed concern as 49 cases of Ebola disease were diagnosed in Guinea, a poor, heavily populated nation in West Africa. They were right to be concerned. Those 49 cases would spread – slowly at first, then exponentially – into the first Ebola epidemic the world has ever seen, causing widespread illness in Guinea, Liberia, Nigerian, Senegal, and Sierra Leone. Meanwhile, health-care workers in the United States and Spain contracted the disease while treating patients who had contracted the disease in Liberia.


Acne treatments that contain benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid can trigger dangerous allergic reactions in some people, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned on Thursday, June 26.


A few days ago, a press release summarizing the results of a study of food marketing techniques popped up in my inbox. To wit: “In research published on March 31, 2014 in JAMA Pediatrics, Dartmouth researchers found that one-half to one-third of children did not identify milk when shown McDonald’s and Burger King children’s advertising images depicting that product.

bowl of fruit

You've heard the advice before -- from your mother, from your doctor, and from us: "Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, low-fat dairy products, and use polyunsaturated oils." But if you're eating on a budget (and who isn't?), that's tough advice to follow. Fill your grocery basket with fresh fruits and vegetables, olive oil, and lean meats -- especially organic versions -- and you can lighten your wallet in a hurry. But eating on a budget doesn’t have to mean eating poorly.

Three men

When is an increase in the number and percentage of deaths a good sign? When the deaths are occurring in people 100 years of age or older.

breathing mask

Throughout April and early May 2013, news headlines focused on a bird flu virus that was sickening people in China's urban centers. Chinese influenza experts isolated the avian (bird) flu virus and determined it was an influenza A (H7N9) subtype, which had never been identified in humans before. As new cases and fatalities were reported almost daily, media headlines focused on the pandemic potential of the virus.

runners at sunset

The blasts at the Boston Marathon are not a tragedy. They are something far worse.

Last Saturday, my four-year-old ran her first race. It was a just-for-kids, 1.2 mile run in the midst of a panopoly of races that I can only call a celebration of running. There was a marathon, a half-marathon, a 10K, a 5K, and then the kids’ race, with 1500 kids and parents all trotting around a soft, grassy Midwestern park. It took half an hour to get to the start line –and almost as long to run the mile.

waking up happily

It’s time to “spring forward” into daylight savings time on March 10, 2013. That one-hour shift in time can disrupt sleep patterns, especially people who have sleep problems and children. But with a little preparation, you can indeed “spring” out of bed on Sunday morning after a good night’s sleep.

Why is it so hard to adjust to a simple one-hour shift in the clock? The answer has to do with your circadian rhythm – the internal clock that tells your body when it’s time to sleep, rise, eat, exercise, be alert, and … you guessed it… sleep.

Cross country skiing

When the winter’s snow and rain gather at your window pane, how do you get out the door for your daily workout? Cold weather, icy streets, and winter winds may dissuade you from your morning run, but they don't have to equal loss of fitness. Whether your winter fitness goals are improving overall health, weight control, or training for a competitive event next spring, you can find a way to stay fit over the winter months.


Asparagus contains compounds that may help cure alcohol hangover and protect liver cells.

Planning to imbibe this New Year’s Eve? Eat some asparagus before and after you drink, and you just might lessen the misery of a hangover.

Asparagus – genus Asparagus officinalis – is part of many cuisines. It is widely used by herbalists, who claim a range of benefits for the spear-like green vegetable, ranging from hangover cure to aphrodisiac to anticancer properties. Asparagus has been shown to have antifungal, anti-inflammatory, and diuretic properties.

pills; medications

Beta-blockers, a type of drug frequently prescribed for people with heart disease, may not reduce the risk of a second heart attack, death, or stroke in people with coronary artery disease (CAD). In people with risk factors for heart disease, beta-blockers may increase the risk of such events, according to findings from a recent large observational study conducted by a team of investigators from the Cardiac and Vascular Institute at NYU Langone Medical Center.

breathing mask

Chances are, you’re sitting inside right now. But do you know what’s in the air that you’re breathing? How much do you know about your in home air quality? Most people spend the majority of time indoors, whether in homes, workplaces, school, or other buildings. Yet indoor air pollutants are often abundant in homes and other indoor spaces.  

countryside view

A few mice caused havoc in the United States during the summer of 2012, as officials from Yosemite National Park warned up to 10,000 park visitors that they might have been exposed to a deadly form of hantavirus (hanta virus). As of September 1, 2012, at least six people had fallen ill from infection with the rodent-borne virus. Two of those people, both young, previously healthy adults, have died. Additional suspected cases have been identified but have not been confirmed.

stethoscope on map

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), popularly known as “healthcare reform,” passed a major hurdle on Thursday, June 28 when the Supreme Court of the United States upheld all but one of the law’s major provisions. While the court ruled that the “individual mandate” (the requirement that almost all Americans purchase health insurance coverage or pay a fine) is constitutional, it also held that the federal government could not withhold Medicaid funding from states that chose not to participate in a proposed expansion of Medicaid.

CT scanner

On June 6, 2012, a cross-Atlantic research team reported results of a large, retrospective cohort study, which suggest that children who have several computed tomography (CT) scans during childhood may be at greater risk of leukemia and brain cancer. However, the study authors observed, the influence of CT scans on the absolute risk of developing either condition is extremely small.

lady exercising

If you’ve tried to start a fitness program only to lose it amongst a pile of forgotten New Year’s resolutions, don’t give up. Summer is just around the corner, and long, sunny days invite more outdoor activity. Here’s how to make a fitness program a fun part of your daily routine.

kite flying

Are you the parent of a preschooler? Do you struggle to prioritize work, play, discipline, chores, bedtime, meals, tantrums, and more? Does outdoor play time often get left off the list? Findings of a Seattle-based research team suggest that you’re not alone: Only half of preschool age children in the United States spend at least an hour playing outside with a parent every day.

lady drinking milk

Vitamin D levels higher than the low end of normal do not provide any benefits and may actually increase the risk of heart attack and other heart problems, according to new research from a Johns Hopkins University research team.

quizz image

Are you among the thousands of people pledging to lose thirty pounds, quit smoking, eat healthier, run a marathon, save money, go back to school, or any of the thousands of other pledges people make to themselves every January 1? Do your resolutions usually last much longer than January 15?

With Christmas right around the corner, many procrastinating parents, aunts, uncles, grandmas, and grandpas are madly scrambling to find last-minute gifts for the kids on their holiday gift lists. Should you choose educational toys? Video games? Electronic gadgets? Old-fashioned toys? If you’re one of those procrastinating parents, don’t despair. Here are some guidelines for choosing the right toys this holiday season.  

Is there a caregiver on your holiday gift list this year? If so, you’re not alone. With an estimated 65 million informal and family caregivers in the United States, representing about 29 percent of the U.S. population, there are plenty of caregivers out there who need some caring themselves this holiday season.

Kids drink as many or more sugary drinks when schools ban only soda – and not other sugar-sweetened beverages – as in schools that do nothing to decrease children’s access to high-calorie beverages. Even more discouraging, comprehensive policies banning sugar-sweetened beverages such as soda in school are only slightly more effective. Schools that ban all beverages with caloric sweeteners – including soda (sometimes referred to as soft drinks or pop), sweetened tea, sport drinks, energy drinks, juice and juice beverages, and others – reduce kids’ access to the drinks during school hours.

Halloween is the night of costumes and jack o’ lanterns, scarecrows and goblins, candy and stomach-aches. Yet far too often, it is also a night of tragedy.

Influenza and its complications killed 115 children and teens in the United States during 2010-2011, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported on September 16. Many of those deaths could have been prevented if the children had been vaccinated against the flu, the CDC said in a separate press release.

Every five days during the summer months, a child drowns in a portable, above-ground swimming pool. These findings from a retrospective study published online June 20 in the journal Pediatrics, suggest that portable swimming pools are more dangerous than most parents realize.

New research suggests that women who sleep less may live longer than their well-rested counterparts – and as an added bonus, reduce their risk of stroke.

Study shows people who drank one sugary beverage per day were 25 percent more likely to develop type-2 diabetes, and 20 percent more likely to develop metabolic syndrome than were to people who drank one or fewer beverages per month.

On Monday, October 18, the American Heart Association (AHA) released new guidelines for performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

Being exposed to secondhand smoke may harm genes in the lining of the lungs. These genetic changes may increase the risk of developing lung diseases, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Teens who regularly use the popular over-the-counter drug acetaminophen (brand name Tylenol) may be more than twice as likely to develop asthma as those who don’t.