HA Medical Advisory Board Recommendations Regarding COVID-19 for Patients with Hydrocephalus
March 13, 2020
Many Hydrocephalus Association members have asked whether having a shunt of any type (e.g., ventriculo-peritoneal (VP), ventriculo-atrial (VA), and so on) puts patients at a greater risk with respect to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
The Chair and Vice-Chair of the HA Medical Advisory Board, Dr. Michael A. Williams and Dr. Mark G. Hamilton, state that as of March 13, 2020, no known increase in risk of COVID-19 exists solely because a person has a shunt. However, many persons of all ages with hydrocephalus and shunts have coexisting health conditions, and they should consider themselves in the higher-risk population, as described by the CDC, which includes older adults or those of any age with serious long-term health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes, or lung disease, as well as other ongoing serious health conditions.
If you are in doubt or unsure about your risk category, we recommend that you follow CDC guidance to stay at home as much as possible, to avoid crowds if you leave home, to practice social distancing (keeping space between yourself and others), to wash your hands often, and to avoid non-essential air travel or cruise ship travel.
Avoiding travel to hospitals, clinics, or physician offices, especially in high-risk areas, may be helpful to prevent exposure to COVID-19. If you have a scheduled appointment with your physician for a routine visit that could be safely delayed, we recommend you speak with your physician’s staff to see if the physician agrees that your appointment can be safely delayed. However, if you are experiencing symptoms that are concerning for shunt malfunction or another issue that could be harmful to you if not addressed promptly, please contact your physician’s office to confirm that you will come to the appointment, or if there is an emergency, call 911 or emergency services in your community to be seen in the emergency department.
The Hydrocephalus Association and HA’s Medical Advisory Board will continue to monitor information and guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Health Canada, and the World Health Organization (WHO), and provide updates as needed.
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