– Ed

The latest outbreak of a new coronavirus in Wuhan, China, in December 2019, has caused huge concern worldwide. Not only is the coronavirus life-threatening, but can also cause economic devastation. The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are closely monitoring developments around the outbreak caused by a novel (new) coronavirus first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. Chinese authorities identified the new coronavirus, which has resulted in hundreds of confirmed cases in China, including cases outside Wuhan City, with additional cases being identified in a growing number of countries internationally. The first case in the United States was announced on January 21, 2020. There are ongoing investigations to learn more. Early on, many of the patients in the outbreak in Wuhan, China, reportedly had some link to a large seafood and animal market, suggesting animal-to-person spread. However, a growing number of patients reportedly have not had exposure to animal markets, suggesting person-to-person spread is occurring.

Coronaviruses are types of viruses that typically affect the respiratory tract of mammals, including humans. They are associated with the common cold, pneumonia, and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and can also affect the gut. A coronavirus was first isolated in 1937 from an infectious bronchitis virus in birds that have the ability to devastate poultry stocks. These viruses are responsible for between 15 and 30 percent of common colds. Over the last 70 years, scientists have found that coronaviruses can infect mice, rats, dogs, cats, turkeys, horses, pigs, and cattle. Human coronaviruses are common throughout the world.

The SARS epidemic

This virus started off in the Guangdong Province in southern China in November 2002, eventually reaching Hong Kong. From there, it rapidly spread around the world, infecting people in 37 countries, killing 774 people.

The MERS epidemic

MERS, caused by the MERS-CoV coronavirus, was first recognised in 2012. This severe respiratory illness first surfaced in Saudi Arabia and, since then, has spread to other countries. The virus reached the U.S., and the largest outbreak outside the Arabian Peninsula occurred in South Korea in 2015.

Fast facts on Corona Viruses

  • There is no cure for the common cold.
  • A coronavirus causes both SARS and MERS.
  • Coronaviruses infect many different species.
  • There are six known human coronaviruses.
  • It typically leads to a life-threatening form of pneumonia.
  • Coronaviruses were given their name based on the crown-like projections on their surfaces. “Corona” in Latin means “halo” or “crown.”
  • The virus responsible can be diagnosed by taking a sample of respiratory fluids, such as mucus from the nose, or blood.
  • Human coronaviruses cannot be cultivated in the laboratory easily, unlike the rhinovirus, another cause of the common cold.
  • Complications with SARS were more likely in older adults, and half of all infected people over the age of 65 years who became ill did not survive.

Among humans, the infection most often occurs during the winter months as well as early spring. It is not uncommon for a person to become ill with a cold that is caused by a coronavirus and then catch it again about four months later. This is because coronavirus antibodies do not last for a very long time. Also, the antibodies for one strain of coronavirus may be useless against other strains.

Coronaviruses can spread in the following ways:

  • Coughing and sneezing without covering the mouth can disperse droplets into the air, spreading the virus.
  • Touching or shaking hands with a person that has the virus can pass the virus from one person to another.
  • Making contact with a surface or object that has the virus and then touching your nose, eyes, or mouth.

Symptoms

Cold- or flu-like symptoms usually set in from two to four days after coronavirus infection, and they are typically mild.

Symptoms include:

  • sneezing
  • a runny nose
  • fatigue
  • a cough
  • in rare cases, fever
  • a sore throat
  • exacerbated asthma

There is no cure, so treatments include taking care of yourself and over-the-counter medication:

  • Rest and avoid overexertion.
  • Drink enough water.
  • Avoid smoking and smoky areas.
  • Take acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen to reduce pain and fever.
  • Use a clean humidifier or cool mist vaporiser.

Transmission

Contagious diseases can spread through coughing without covering the mouth. There has not been a great deal of research on how a human coronavirus spreads from one person to the next. However, it is believed that viruses transmit using secreted fluid from the respiratory system. It is said that the mutating abilities of the coronavirus are what make it so contagious. To prevent transmission, be sure to stay at home and rest while experiencing symptoms and avoid close contact with other people. Covering the mouth and nose with a tissue or handkerchief while coughing or sneezing can also help prevent the spread of a coronavirus. Be sure to dispose of any used tissues and maintain hygiene around the home.

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