By Dr. Michele Dikkers, Physician at Cornerstone Family Practice and GMHC, Chair of Clayton County Board of Health
The human body is quite a remarkable thing. It is simply amazing all of the things it does. We put in food, all kinds (fruits, vegetable, meats, dairy, eggs and various liquids) and in return we get bone, skin, hair and muscle.
The body has a very intricate defense system, other wise known as our immune system. The immune system is made up of many layers. There is the outer protective cover, better known as our largest organ, our skin. Then there are the innate and adaptive components of the system, fighters and protectors against invaders of our bodies.
It’s a very complicated system, but to simplify it, we have a protective outer defense (the skin) and multiple inner defenses consisting of a system that fights invaders and a system that can identify invaders and fight them more specifically. With some viruses, we develop an immunity, like a facial recognition system. Once we have been exposed, our body recognizes the infection and we can fight it off without getting ill. This happens when we have had certain viruses and other times it is because we have received an immunization.
With bacterial infections we can help our body fight intruders with antibiotics. With viral infections, they have to run the course, all we can do is treat the symptoms. With some viruses, this is ok to do. With other viruses, those that can be deadly, it is not enough to wait it out and treat the symptoms.
So what can we do?
We can prevent the virus from getting into our system by washing hands, avoiding close contact with others and avoiding touching our faces, (our outer layer of protection).
We can keep ourselves healthy by eating right, sleeping well, exercising and following up with our regular health care providers to make sure we stay well.
We can get vaccinated, (“Facial Recognition”) to identify the virus and more efficiently fight it.
COVID-19 is spread via respiratory particles. Coughing, sneezing and “wet talking” spews those particles into the air at others, spraying those germs/viruses uninhibited at others, at someone’s parent, someone’s grandparent.
Until we have a vaccine for COVID-19, that’s all we have. Stay home when you are sick, avoid large groups of people, social distance, wash your hands and wear a mask. It’s not perfect, but it’s what we have. It’s what we know works.
The mask may not be perfect, but it decreases the risk of spreading the virus significantly.
The numbers are low in Iowa. They are low in Clayton County. Lets keep it that way. But it will take all of us to do that.
We are in this together.