Here we are in August of 2021 and we are still ass deep in the throws of the Coronavirus Pandemic, only now health care providers and global citizens are grappling with the effects of mutation after mutation of COVID-19 with the most recent Delta Variant accounting for the new rise in cases across the board including pediatric patients. The truth of the matter is mutating infectious disease processes like a virus is nothing new and the misunderstanding of exposure versus viral load is causing some misconceptions and miscommunications within both the healthcare industry and the civilian world, so we’re here to break it down for you just a little bit to help you understand why what doesn’t kill you mutates and tries again.
SARS-CoV-2 has demonstrated the capability to spread rapidly, leading to significant impacts on health care systems and causing societal disruption. The potential public health threat posed by COVID-19 is high, both globally and to the United States, which is where this article has been articulated. To respond effectively to the COVID-19 outbreak, appropriate clinical management and infection control in conjunction with implementation of community mitigation efforts are critical, however throughout both 2020 and 2021 there has been more fingers pointed as to who is responsible for the ongoing viral and deadly pandemic than in a jazz recital and the lack of global citizen cooperation has been disheartening to say the least. The truth is WE”RE ALL RESPONSIBLE as this is a matter of PUBLIC HEALTH & SAFETY and to think it’s anything other than an equal opportunity crisis is narrow minded and shallow thinking.
But if it’s an equal opportunity crisis, then why are some more severely affected than others? There has to be a logical explanation as to why or how global citizens be so far apart on how to address the exact same issue that seemingly affects everyone, but seems to have no rhyme or reason as to who is going to get very sick and die from COVID-19 versus who is asymptomatic and may not even be aware they are a carrier and transmitter. We believe the answer to this is the simple fact no one seems to be addressing, VIRAL LOAD.
Viral load refers to the amount of virus in an infected person’s blood. This is expressed as the number of viral particles in each milliliter of blood. A higher viral load can have different implications for different viruses but typically means the infection is progressing. Now when thinking about exposure, everyone is exposed to infectious diseases all the time! That is a fact. It’s impossible to avoid bacterial, viral, or microbial particles, but it is possible to be mindful of how much exposure you find yourself exposed to when it comes to viral load and how your viral load may affect those around you. The more exposure, the higher the viral load, the higher likelihood you will find yourself at risk of developing a serious illness or having infection progression. This is where immuno-compromised populations will have a higher incidence rate of illness and where the rate of transmission can and will also increase.
Bottom line, you cannot avoid exposure, but you can take steps to mitigate your viral load by taking precautions to stop the spread of infection which happens through a Source (where germs live like human skin and surfaces), a Susceptible Person (a way for germs to enter the body like nose, eyes, mouth), and Transmission (a way germs are moved like droplets or airborne means). Wearing a mask DOES help mitigate these factors as does vaccination and these measures should always be taken when the benefit outweighs the risk, especially when Public Health is concerned. If we as a people continue to be wishy washy when it comes to infectious diseases, whose main goal is to SURVIVE and THRIVE, we will continue to lose the global battle against the current deadly virus plaguing our nation and planet… and let me be clear, healthcare providers are TIRED! And when it comes to Diagnostic Ultrasound, there is still no such thing as social distance and Sonographers are suffering from the effects of burnout and illness at a rate never before seen in the history of our profession.
Remember, viruses don’t vote and are completely unbiased. They know only how to survive and if humans don’t take on the same survival tactics to outwit pathogens, we will continue to fight the good fight and risk losing the war because what doesn’t kill you, will simply mutate and try again!
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