Implications of coronavirus (covid-19) for people with ataxia - Ataxia UK

Implications of coronavirus (covid-19) for people with ataxia

Post Published: March 9, 2020

Ataxia UK Guidance

What is coronavirus?

A coronavirus is a type of virus. As a group, coronaviruses are common across the world. Typical symptoms of coronavirus include fever and a cough that may progress to a severe pneumonia causing shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. Generally, coronavirus can cause more severe symptoms in people with weakened immune systems, older people, and those with long-term conditions like diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease.

How will this affect someone who has ataxia? 

In general, having an ataxia (except Ataxia Telangiectasia – AT) does not mean people have a weakened immune system, and therefore having ataxia does not render you more likely to catching coronavirus. This may differ for people who are taking immunosuppressants or if people have associated health problems so if you are at all concerned contact your doctor or ring 111 for advice. Having a long-term neurological condition does mean that people with ataxia find having an infection tends to affect them more than people without ataxia, and it takes longer to recover. People with ataxia and their families will therefore be keen to reduce the risk of catching coronavirus.

Please follow the advice from Public Health England to:

 Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze

 Put used tissues in the bin immediately.

 Wash your hands with soap and warm water often – use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available.

 Try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell.

 Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean.

The full NHS England advice is here and it includes information on whether using a face mask is needed. More advice on face masks can be found on the World Health Organisation website.

In the preparation of this guidance we have consulted both of the lead neurologists at the London UCL/UCLH and Sheffield Ataxia Centres.

It may be that the government introduces controls on large gatherings and we ourselves are aware that we may, with regret, need to cancel some events such as the Scottish Conference in June. Please keep an eye on our website and e-newsletters.

Check out our dedicated area of Covid-19 information here.

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