Coronavirus Precautions for Ataxia Patients

Last updated: May 2020

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is affecting communities worldwide. The health and safety of the Ataxia community is a priority at NAF. We have consulted with our Medical Research Advisory Board, infectious disease specialists, the World Health Organization, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to learn about the best ways that a person with Ataxia can protect themselves during this public health event. 

As a result, NAF has taken preventative measures such as recommending cancellation of in-person support group meetings until this situation is under control. Many have opted for virtual meetings instead. Find a meeting at We’d also like to help you understand what you can do to decrease your risk of contracting COVID-19. 

Protect Yourself from Coronavirus

COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus. Steps that you can take to limit your risk of exposure are outlined here.

Wash your hands often.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after visiting a public place, coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.

The World Health Organization (WHO) warns that your hands can pick up viruses when they touch surfaces. Once your hands are contaminated, touching your eyes, nose, or mouth can transfer the virus into your body. Wearing protective gloves does not protect you from COVID-19. You can still pick up the virus on rubber gloves. Wash your hands well before touching your face.

Maintain distance from others.

The WHO says that you should stay at least 3 feet away from anyone who is coughing or sneezing. It is also recommended to avoid shaking hands to limit your risk of exposure. Greet people with a wave or nod instead. 

In addition, the CDC recommends that people at higher risk for complications, such as someone with Ataxia, should take additional preventative actions. These precautions include avoiding crowds and non-essential travel.

If you are at higher risk for complications and COVID-19 is spreading in your community, the CDC recommends that you stay home as much as possible.

Seek medical care early if you develop symptoms.

If you experience fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, call your health care provider immediately. They can tell you the next-steps you should take in your area. According to the CDC, emergency warning signs for adults are:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or inability to arouse
  • Bluish lips or face

Additional Coronavirus Resources

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