Coronavirus (COVID-19) and MDS
The following information was prepared in collaboration with MDS Foundation Medical and Scientific Advisory Board members Rafael Bejar, MD, PhD and Rena Buckstein, MD, and MDS Foundation Board of Directors member Michael Savona, MD.
Recommendations for MDS Patients:
- MDS patients showing no symptoms, not on treatment, with scheduled follow up visits for count checks, may discuss clinic visit alternatives with their healthcare provider. Any necessary questions could likely be dealt with by phone.
- Patients who are on active treatments or transfusions should continue to attend any scheduled appointments unless they are contacted by a member of their healthcare team. If a patient has any symptoms of cough, fever, diarrhea, chills, they should contact their doctor or nursing line for instructions prior to going into the clinic so they do not potentially expose other immunocompromised patients.
- All patients should avoid travel if possible, minimize contact with large crowds, engage in vigorous hand washing, avoid contact with anyone having respiratory symptoms or recently traveled to countries with widespread COVID-19 outbreaks.
- Patients with a fever and/or respiratory symptoms should call their healthcare provider (most cancer centers have hotlines now) for instructions on how to proceed prior to coming into the hematology clinics. If possible, wear a mask when attending hospitals or clinics.
- Reduce contact with sick individuals and large gatherings.
- Viral defenses are not necessarily weakened in MDS, however, most MDS patients are older and therefore already at greater risk.
- MDS patients who are used to living with low neutrophil counts should already be utilizing the general recommendations listed below which will help during this time.
The following general recommendations were prepared by the Aplastic Anemia and MDS International Foundation in collaboration with their Medical Advisory Board Chair Mikkael Sekeres MD and Co-Chair Olatoyosi Odenke MD.
- Refrain from touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
- Wash your hands often for at least 20 seconds with soap and water or use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue and clean your hands. If a tissue is not available, cough or sneeze into your elbow.
- Avoid shaking hands with others.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick and discourage people from visiting your home if they have any symptoms of illness.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces (i.e. doorknobs, light switches, handles, toilets, faucets, laptops, keyboards, cell phones, tables/counters).
- Avoid travel as much as possible.
- Avoid crowds and large gatherings.
- Avoid contact with high-touch surfaces in public places (i.e., elevator buttons, door handles, handrails, touchscreens). Flat surfaces are more likely to have viruses or bacteria.
- Contact your physician with any questions or specific concerns.
The coronaviruses are a large family of viruses which may cause illness in animals or humans. COVID-19 is the most recently discovered coronavirus which is the cause of the current pandemic. Other coronaviruses are the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
COVID-19 is not like the flu in so far as, unless there is direct cough or sneeze from an infected individual, transmission of the virus through the air is less likely. The disease can spread from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth which are spread when a person with COVID-19 coughs or exhales. These droplets land on objects and surfaces around the person. Other people then catch COVID-19 by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. People can also catch COVID-19 if they breathe in droplets from a person with COVID-19 who coughs out or exhales droplets. This is why it is important to stay more than 6 feet (2 meters) away from a person who is sick.
Guidance for Bone Marrow Failure Patients to Protect Against Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Frequently Asked Questions – From the first AAMDSIF COVID-19 Webinar
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
https://umiamihealth.org/alerts/coronavirus-covid-19 – Stem Cell Transplant
https://www.aamds.org/education/covid-19 – Bone Marrow Failure
https://bloodwise.org.uk/blog/coronavirus-and-blood-cancer – United Kingdom
https://covidcancercare.com/ – – COVID Cancer Care is a free stress management program for cancer patients.
attune™ program – The first digital therapeutic program designed specifically for anxiety and depression in people living with cancer.
https://www.nccn.org/covid-19/default.aspx – National Comprehensive Cancer Network® (NCCN®) COVID-19 Resources.