The Coronavirus

Everybody in one way or another has listened recently the word coronavirus.  You turn on the TV, look at Facebook, and in the news, everyone is talking about the Coronavirus, COVID-19 and SARS-CoV-2.

SARS-CoV-2, a coronavirus, is the virus that causes COVID-19.

cdc coronavirus

Then, what is the coronavirus?

Coronavirus is not new.  It was first described 1960s.  Coronaviruses are a family of viruses, that includes those related to the Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS-CoV), Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS-CoV), and the recent COVID-19 (2019-CoV).  It is an RNA-based virus.  It gets its name from a corona or ‘crown’ of sugary-proteins that projects from the envelope surrounding the particle.

 

Coronavirus – SARS-CoV-2

A recent outbreak of a respiratory disease was reported at the end of December 2019 in China.  The outbreak is caused by a virus.  Scientist has named the virus as “SARS-CoV-2” which means Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2.

It is a novel or new form of an existing family of coronaviruses. It has not been previously identified in humans.   The disease it causes has been named “coronavirus disease 2019” (“COVID-19”).

It was first detected in the Wuhan City in China on 31 December 2019.  On February 2020, it has been detected in 57 locations internationally.

According to the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC), the Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats.  It is said that the virus has its origin from bats.

In rare occasion, animal coronaviruses can infect people and then spread between people.  It seems it is the case for this virus.

 

Spread

Many of the early patients associated with the COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan, China had some relation to a large seafood and live animal market.  This suggested animal-to-person spread.  Later, patients that did not have exposure to animal markets were reported, indicating person-to-person spread.

Sustained person-to-person spread were reported in China, and then, outside China.

COVID-19 is a new disease. There is more to learn about how it spreads, the severity of illness it causes, and to what extent it may spread. The virus that causes COVID-19 seems to be spreading easily and sustainably in the community.

According to CDC, the virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.  It spread between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet), and through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads

 

Symptoms

Reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness.  Unfortunately, death has also be reported.

Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure*:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

Coronaviruses infection in severe form can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.

 

Prevention

It is a new virus; scientists are learning about it daily.  There is no vaccine to prevent it as of now.

CDC recommended preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

 

  • CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases. Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others.

 

For additional information refer to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) page:  https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/

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