We have received many questions regarding the current Coronavirus pandemic with COVID-19, and understand your concerns. We’d like to keep you informed throughout this crisis as best we can, and are providing this update with some information for our patients about COVID-19.

This information and guidance comes from our medical team at the Rocky Mountain MS Center at University of Colorado.Coronaviruses are a large class of viruses, which can cause the common cold. COVID-19 is a new variant of Coronavirus, different enough from others that our immune systems have not seen this virus before, resulting in more severe infections in some patients than what we typically see with the common cold. Because this virus is new, we also don’t yet have a vaccine or treatments like we do for the flu. We are still learning much about this virus.

Please use the following links to help navigate this page:

MS Center COVID-19 Video Updates

The Rocky Mountain MS Center has been updating patients and our MS community since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Collected here is our playlist of video archives, including webinars, Education Summit sessions, Q&As with patients, and regular updates.

Click play to watch from the beginning, or use the Playlist menu in the top-right to navigate to a specific video update. To browse all these videos on YouTube, please click here.

Maintaining a Healthy Lifestyle in a Pandemic

It’s critically important to maintain an active, healthy lifestyle, especially during a pandemic when such things can fall off our priority list very quickly. Here, we’ve compiled some resources explaining how important it is to stay healthy, and some tips to keep you active.

COVID-19 and MS Drugs

>> FOR OUR PATIENTS WHO USE MS DRUGS OR OTHER DRUGS THAT SUPPRESS THE IMMUNE SYSTEM: 

These include Ocrevus, Rituxan, Tysabri, Lemtrada, Gilenya, Mayzent, Cladribine, Tecfidera, and Vumerity.

You may be at greater risk of infection with coronavirus, or other infections. And the infections could be more severe, last longer, or have slightly different effects in you. This is true for all infections while taking medications that suppress the immune system. However, many patients on these drugs may well still have the typical mild version of COVID-19 or other infection. The spectrum of illness in those with suppressed immune systems remains mostly unknown, except that older age is clearly a risk for worse disease.

At this point, risks do not appear to be higher in MS patients. Outcomes appear to be the same as for other COVID-19 patients even if treated with immunosuppressing medications. Our team is participating in frequent calls to learn from our colleagues around the world including weekly from the International Women in MS group. We will continue to update this page with any new information.

When the Coronavirus crisis started, doctors at the RMMSC at CU​ advised some MS patients on certain drugs to delay their next doses — today we know that’s not necessary, and the most current advice is that infusions and other disease modifying therapies should go on as scheduled.

Of course, all situations are different, and decisions regarding your treatment should always be made with the advice of your own physician and neurology team.

We are continuing to push back some labs in patients who have been having normal labs and MRIs who are getting normal monitoring without concerning symptoms.

Quick Facts

>> Protecting Yourself and Others

Here’s how to help prevent the spread of coronavirus, the flu, and other viruses, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health (CDPHE):

  • Stay home as much as possible.
  • Practice good hygiene. Wash your hands frequently for 20 seconds or more with soapy water, and don’t touch your face.
  • Wear a face covering or mask if you muct leave your home.
  • Stay at least 6 feet away from others.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces such as desks, doorknobs, handrails, etc.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your inner elbow.
  • Get your flu shot and stay up-to-date on other routine immunizations.
  • Connect with neighbors and loved ones virtually.

>> What’s the risk if I do catch COVID-19?

For most people, COVID-19 is a mild infection or does not result in any symptoms. There is no specific medication or vaccination for COVID-19. Treatment aims to relieve symptoms while your body fights the infection.

If you have MS and get an infection – be it COVID-19, flu, cold, a bladder infection, stomach upset or any other bug or virus – the way your body deals with the infection (for example a fever) can cause a temporary worsening of MS symptoms. These tend to be a worsening of your “usual” symptoms and are particularly common if you develop a fever. We often refer to this as a pseudo-relapse. Once you’ve recovered from the infection, your MS symptoms will settle down.

If you are older than 60, or your MS is more severe (for example if you are wheelchair-bound or bed-bound), you may have a higher risk of developing complications from COVID-19 or other infections. If you find it difficult to clear your lungs, there’s an increased risk of a cold or flu developing into a more serious chest infection such as pneumonia.

>> Testing for COVID-19

If you feel you may need testing for COVID-19, please call your primary care provider first. People need to meet the test criteria in order for a doctor to give them an order since the testing can only be done on a limited number of cases daily. More information about testing in Colorado can be found on CDPHE’s website here: https://covid19.colorado.gov/covid-19-in-colorado/about-covid-19/testing-for-covid-19

Other Resources

>> Telehealth Visits @ RMMSC

Have you scheduled a Telehealth appointment with your RMMSC Team? Click here for information on making sure your virtual visit is a success.

We have converted most visits to telehealth, particularly for patients at potential higher risk, such as pregnant patients or those patients over 60 years of age. Telehealth clinic visits require a computer or phone with an internet connection that allows you to watch movies or videos. Telehealth tips to help you prepare for your visit are posted here: https://www.mscenter.org/education/covid-19/903-telehealth-tips

Phased-In Approach at UCHealth for In-Person Visits

Beginning on April 27th, the clinic began slowly phasing in in-person visits, starting with high priority visits and procedures. Many MS visits will still be mostly via telehealth for several months. If you are scheduled for an in-person visit, please bring your own masks if possible. Also, be sure to bring in your recent medical records and MRIs. If you are feeling ill with an upper respiratory syndrome, especially cough, fever and sneezing, on the day of your visit, please reschedule your visit with us and contact your PCP as to how to address your upper respiratory syndrome.

 

>> Curated List of COVID-19 Resources for You and Your Family

Staying connected, active, and calm during these difficult times is challenging, but we have been so grateful to find so many amazing and creative resources and online programming being offered right now. We have compiled a list of those resources including ways to stay active at home, fun things to do online (tours, concerts, educational activities, zoo cams, and more!), opportunities to socialize virtually, mental health resources, food and supply links, and volunteering opportunities. CLICK HERE. 

>> Additional sources of information

— Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) is providing a phone line to answer questions from the public about COVID-19. Call CO-Help at 303.389.1687 or 1.877.462.2911 or email COHELP@RMPDC.org, for answers in English and Spanish (Español), Mandarin (普通话) and more.

— World Health Organization (WHO) COVID-19 information includes history of the virus, worldwide statistics, and frequently asked questions.