Bucks County Officials made a point of telling the public about a coronavirus symptom observed that is indicative of the virus on Friday.
Department of Health Director, Dr David Damsker said during Friday’s press briefing that the first symptom of the virus isn’t always fever. He said there is another symptom (s) that’s come to the attention of health professionals and officials that more and more victims are reporting; the loss of taste and smell.
What’s very striking now, over the past several days, between 80 and 90 percent of all of our patients have a loss of smell and taste,” Damsker said at the briefing.
Those with a runny nose and loss of taste and smell could likely have the virus, Damsker said.
These symptoms have been also reported as infection indicators nationally and internationally.
A report issued by ENT UK, a professional body of ears, nose and throat specialists in the United Kingdom said there is already good evidence from South Korea, China and Italy that significant numbers of patients with proven COVID-19 infection have developed *anosmia/*hyposmia. In Germany, the report says, its been observed in more than 2 in 3 confirmed cases have anosmia. In South Korea, where testing has been more widespread, 30% of patients testing positive have had anosmia as their major presenting symptom in otherwise mild coronavirus cases.
Locaally, in New Jersey, similar reports started to emerge earlier this week when NJ.com published a story detailing similar, if not exacting, case studies.
According to the reporting, “Physicians from Bergen County and New Rochelle, New York — both coronavirus epicenters — told a local Rutgers University medical professor that patients who had reported losing their taste and smell were testing positive for COVID-19.”
Medical researchers point out there is mounting evidence, now considered anecdotal, but are alerting health care providers there is a chance the apparent increase in incidence could merely reflect the attention COVID-19 has attracted.
In such cases of typical rhinovirus and coronavirus strains, it could potentially be used as a screening tool to help identify otherwise asymptomatic patients, who could then be better instructed on self-isolation, the report said.
Damsker said its also hard to know the real number of cases in the county because people who are mildly sick are not tested.
As of the news briefing, there are 144 confirmed cases and there is likely more than that, Damsker said.
10 coronavirus patients are hospitalized, six in serious condition, and four are critically ill, Bucks County officials said with 124 confirmed cases reported in the county as of Friday at 1 p.m.
Meanwhile, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf is shutting down nine more counties beginning tonight at 8 p.m- Berks, Butler, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Luzerne, Pike, Wayne, Westmoreland and York – due to coronavirus spread. The news comes on the heels of six more deaths reported in the Commonwealth by state health officials.
531 new cases were added statewide bringing the number of total cases to approximately 2220 spanning 50 counties in Pennsylvania and bringing the total number of deaths to 22 due to COVID-19.
*Anosmia: The failure of the development of or the loss of the sense of smell.
*Hyposmia: A reduced ability to smell and to detect odors. Some people have anosmia and can detect no odors