In the wake of uncertainty stirred by the coronavirus (COVID-19), myths about its origin, treatment and transmission have cropped up, especially on social media, that could be dangerous or cause panic. Some of the more common misconceptions include:
- Bat soup origin: Social media has circulated photos and videos of a woman eating bat soup, claiming that it’s how the virus started. In reality, the video is from 2016 and took place in Palau, an archipelago in the Pacific Ocean. The epicenter of the outbreak is thought to be linked to a seafood and live animal market from Wuhan, China.
- Facemasks and surgical masks: Surgical masks will not protect wearers from inhaling airborne particles, such as water droplets containing the coronavirus. An N95 respirator can but is only recommended for use by healthcare professionals. Health officials advise against buying or hoarding facemasks and respirators as there are supply shortages for medical professionals and those in need to prevent further spread of the coronavirus. Facemasks should only be worn if a healthcare professional recommends it, the CDC says.
- Bleach, zinc lozenges, silver and other supposed treatments: Currently, there is no known vaccine or specific medicine for prevention or treatment of the coronavirus. There have been several supposed but false “treatments” circulating online, including ingesting silver solution, sesame oil, garlic, zinc lozenges, spraying or gargling bleach, or rinsing nasal cavities with saline. Current safeguards include frequent handwashing and avoiding close contact with sick people.
- Pets spreading the coronavirus: There is no current evidence that pets, such as dogs or cats, can spread the coronavirus, and there have been no confirmed cases of a cat or dog contracting it. However, it’s still a good idea to wash your hands after contact with a pet to protect against common bacteria, such as e. coli and salmonella. And, the CDC recommends limiting contact with animals if you are sick until more is known about the coronavirus.
- Ordering products from China: It is safe to order and receive packages from China, according to the World Health Organization. Coronaviruses are generally thought to be spread through respiratory droplets which have poor survivability on surfaces.
- Warm weather: It is not yet known if warmer weather will impact the spread of the coronavirus. Some viruses, such as the common cold and flu, are less active in the summer. But the CDC says it’s too early to tell if the coronavirus will act the same.
For updated information and news about the coronavirus, visit cdc.gov or who.int.