Key Facts

Updated March 12, 2020, 8:34 p.m.

What is coronavirus and where did it come from?

Coronaviruses are a family of viruses, some of which cause illness in people, and others of which circulate among animals. The Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2003 was a type of coronavirus, as was Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in 2013. The current virus is referred to as COVID-19.

More information about the new coronavirus is available from the CDC. 

What precautions should I take to guard against coronavirus?

There is no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The CDC recommends everyday actions to help prevent the spread of any type of respiratory virus, including washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available; avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands; avoiding close contact with people who are sick; maintaining physical distance of six feet between yourself and others; wearing a face covering in public places; and staying home when you are sick. Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

What should I do if I think I'm sick?

If you feel sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, please stay home. Dartmouth students should call Dick's House, at 603-646-9400 and faculty and staff should call their primary care provider. Do not visit Dick's House or your health care provider without calling first. On the call, be sure to mention any recent travel and your symptoms. Also, avoid contact with others. Don't travel while sick.

If you do not have a primary care provider, please call the state at 603-271-4496 (NH) or 802-863-7240 (VT).

If you develop fever or respiratory illness within 14 days of travel to or from a Level 2 or 3 country, contact the New Hampshire Division of Public Health Services at 603-271-4496.

How is the virus spread?

Some viruses, such as measles, are highly contagious. Others, less so. At this time, it's unclear how easily this virus is spreading between people. Based on current information, the CDC considers this is a very serious public health threat. Here's information from the CDC on the spread of newly emerged coronaviruses. Because this virus is so new, scientists are still learning the basics about it—how it acts and spreads, and how severe it is. Most respiratory illnesses are spread when an infected person has symptoms, such as coughing or sneezing.

What are the symptoms of this virus?

Confirmed cases of the illnesses have ranged from people being mildly sick to people being severely ill and dying. Symptoms can include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. The CDC believes at this time that symptoms may appear in as few as two days or up to 14 after exposure.