RSTV: IN DEPTH- CORONAVIRUS
China is struggling to contain the spread of a new virus that has claimed at least six lives so far since 31st December. Almost 300 people have been hospitalised. Worryingly enough doctors have confirmed that the infection is spreading rapidly among humans. The outbreak has triggered memories of SARS or severe acute respiratory syndrome, SARS originated in China in 2002, By 2003 it infected more than 8,000 people and killed 774 in a pandemic that ripped through Asia. The present virus is called the Coronavirus. It was first detected in Wuhan city that has cancelled the upcoming Lunar New Year celebrations, where hundreds of thousands of people were expected to attend. Tour agencies have also been banned from taking groups out of Wuhan, even as Chinese President Xi Jinping has ordered resolute efforts to curb the spread of the virus. With one patient infecting as many as 14 medical staff in just one hospital, Chinese doctors believe the disease is spreading far more easily than it was thought previously.
- A coronavirus is a kind of common virus that causes an infection in your nose, sinuses, or upper throat.
- Most coronaviruses are not dangerous. Some types of them are serious, though. About 858 people have died from Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), which first appeared in 2012 in Saudi Arabia and then in other countries in the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and Europe.
- In April 2014, the first American was hospitalized for MERS in Indiana and another case was reported in Florida. Both had just returned from Saudi Arabia.
- In May 2015, there was an outbreak of MERS in Korea, which was the largest outbreak outside of the Arabian Peninsula.
- In 2003, 774 people died from a severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak. As of 2015, there were no further reports of cases of SARS. MERS and SARS are types of coronaviruses.
- But in early January 2020, the World Health Organization identified a new type: 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in China.
- By late January, there were 300 confirmed cases in China and a death count that was still in the single digits, but rising. And despite airport screenings, a traveler had brought the first case to the U.S.
- Often a coronavirus causes upper respiratory infection symptoms like a stuffy nose, cough, and sore throat. You can treat them with rest and over-the-counter medication. The coronavirus can also cause middle ear infections in children.
What Is a Coronavirus?
- Coronaviruses were first identified in the 1960s, but we don’t know where they come from. They get their name from their crown-like shape. Sometimes, but not often, a coronavirus can infect both animals and humans.
- Most coronaviruses spread the same way other cold-causing viruses do: through infected people coughing and sneezing, by touching an infected person’s hands or face, or by touching things such as doorknobs that infected people have touched.
- Almost everyone gets a coronavirus infection at least once in their life, most likely as a young child. In the United States, coronaviruses are more common in the fall and winter, but anyone can come down with a coronavirus infection at any time.
Human coronaviruses most commonly spread from an infected person to others through
- the air by coughing and sneezing
- close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
- touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes before washing your hands
- rarely, fecal contamination
Common human coronaviruses
Common human coronaviruses, including types 229E, NL63, OC43, and HKU1, usually cause mild to moderate upper-respiratory tract illnesses, like the common cold. Most people get infected with these viruses at some point in their lives.
What are the symptoms of coronavirus infections?
The symptoms depend on the type of coronavirus and how serious the infection is. If you have a mild to moderate upper-respiratory infection such as the common cold, your symptoms may include
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
- Not feeling well overall
Some coronaviruses can cause severe symptoms. The infections may turn into bronchitis and pneumonia, which cause symptoms such as
- Fever, which may be quite high if you have pneumonia
- Cough with mucus
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain or tightness when you breathe and cough
Severe infections are more common in people with heart or lung diseases, people with weakened immune systems, infants, and older adults.
Other human coronaviruses
Two other human coronaviruses, MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV have been known to frequently cause severe symptoms. MERS symptoms usually include fever, cough, and shortness of breath which often progress to pneumonia. About 3 or 4 out of every 10 patients reported with MERS have died. MERS cases continue to occur, primarily in the Arabian Peninsula. SARS symptoms often included fever, chills, and body aches which usually progressed to pneumonia. No human cases of SARS have been reported anywhere in the world since 2004.
Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS):
- Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) is a severe respiratory illness that mainly involves the upper respiratory tract. It causes fever, coughing, and shortness of breath. About 30% of people who have gotten this illness have died. Some people only have mild symptoms.
- MERS is caused by the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV). It was first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012 and then spread to many countries. Most cases were spread from people who traveled to the Middle Eastern countries
Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS):
- Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is a serious form of pneumonia. Infection with the SARS virus causes acute respiratory distress (severe breathing difficulty) and sometimes death.
- Expand SectionSARS is caused by a member of the coronavirus family of viruses (the same family that can cause the common cold). It is believed the 2003 epidemic started when the virus spread from small mammals in China
- Healthcare provider may order laboratory tests on respiratory specimens and serum (part of your blood) to detect human coronaviruses. Laboratory testing is more likely to be used if you have severe disease or are suspected of having MERS.
- One should tell your healthcare provider about any recent travel or contact with animals. Most MERS-CoV infections have been reported from countries in the Arabian Peninsula. Therefore reporting a travel history or contact with camels or camel products is very important when trying to diagnose MERS.
How to protect yourself?
There are currently no vaccines available to protect you against human coronavirus infection. You may be able to reduce your risk of infection by doing the following
- wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
- avoid close contact with people who are sick
There are no specific treatments for illnesses caused by human coronaviruses. Most people with common human coronavirus illness will recover on their own. However, you can do some things to relieve your symptoms
- take pain and fever medications (Caution: do not give Aspirin to children)
- use a room humidifier or take a hot shower to help ease a sore throat and cough
If you are mildly sick, you should
- drink plenty of liquids
- stay home and rest
2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV):
- It is a virus (more specifically, a coronavirus) identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China.
- 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. At this time, it’s unclear how easily or sustainably this virus is spreading between people.