The coronavirus is making waves in the headlines and with good reason. It’s led to quarantines, including an entire cruise ship, travel bans, and cities on lock down. The virus has spread to over 30 countries with the death toll approaching 3,000 people. The Chinese even had a hospital built in eight days to deal with the outbreak. What is the coronavirus, where did the outbreak originate, what are the symptoms, how can you protect yourself, and what’s the connection between the coronavirus and snakes?
Facts About The Coronavirus
1. Covid-19 Is A New Strain Of The Coronavirus
The Covid-19, or novel coronavirus, is an entirely new viral strain that has never been identified in humans. Although, not much is known about the virus, it has been confirmed that the infection is transmitted via person-to-person contact, similarly to how a person having a cold can infect another person.
Modes of transmission include being within six feet of an infected person who is coughing or sneezing. If you breathe in the respiratory droplets that permeate the air, you’re now exposed. You can also be exposed by shaking hands or coming into close contact with someone who has the virus or by touching an infected surface or object.
2. The Outbreak Began In China
The viral outbreak began in an animal and seafood market in Wuhan City, located in the Hubei Province of China. The market sold live animals and has subsequently been quarantined. The city of Wuhan has been sealed off, and all roads are being monitored.
Travel restrictions are being enforced in China, with cancellations of both incoming and outgoing flights. Countries with outbreaks of the virus have prohibited Chinese citizens from entering.
3. The Origins Of The Virus
This is creepy. The virus is believed to originate in snakes. There are two types of snakes that are thought to be carriers. Both are indigenous to the southeastern region of China where the virus was initially detected.
However, some experts disagree with this stance, believing that the novel virus is similar to the virus found in Chinese horseshoe bats. The coronavirus can also infect birds and mammals, and is considered zoonotic, meaning it can be passed from animals to humans, albeit rare.
4. How Many People Have Died?
While most of the deaths from the coronavirus have taken place in China, the virus has now spread outside of China, to countries in Europe, Australia, North America, Thailand, South Korea, the Middle East, Japan, and Vietnam. The death toll is close to 3,000 persons, with over 45,000 cases of infection globally.
5. Most Of Us Have Had The Coronavirus
The coronavirus is part of a group of viruses responsible for the common cold and other respiratory illnesses like bronchitis and pneumonia. There are four types of coronaviruses, each one differing from the other: alpha, delta, beta, and gamma. All four types are airborne, with the alpha and beta strains being the only types known to infect humans.
6. SARS And MERS Are Coronaviruses
Remember the scare we had a few years ago with SARS, or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome? SARS, is a beta coronavirus.
In 2002, there was a severe outbreak in Guangdong province of China. The virus was responsible for killing almost 800 people. The first person to be infected was a farmer in Foshan County.
MERS, or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome is also caused by a coronavirus. Four out of every 10 people who became infected died. Fortunately, the novel coronavirus, although more widespread, is not as deadly.
7. There Is No Cure
There is no cure for the coronavirus. Like other viral infections, the virus must run its course. The majority of coronaviruses are not dangerous. The greatest potential danger lies in secondary infections that can result from exposure, such as pneumonia, SARS, respiratory shock, sepsis, and even kidney failure, which can be fatal.
Antibiotics are not effective against viruses, nor is there a vaccine, the only recourse doctors have is symptom-relief, including giving oxygen to patients who have difficulty breathing. Scientists at this time are developing a vaccine, but distribution is at least a year away.
8. Coronavirus Symptoms
Coronavirus affects the sinuses, nasal passages, and upper throat. Accompanying signs of infection associated with the virus include shortness of breath, sneezing, coughing, difficulty breathing, fever, headache, sore throat, runny nose, and a general feeling of malaise. A fever is typically the first sign of infection, along with a dry cough.
The incubation period of the virus is thought to be 10 to 14 days, with symptoms manifesting anywhere from two days up to two weeks after infection. When symptoms do appear, they resemble what you might notice when you have a cold. Essentially, people can have the virus for up to 14 days and have no idea they are infected. This fact, accounts in part for the spread of the virus, since people are unaware they’ve been exposed.
9. People At Highest Risk For Becoming Infected
Like most infections, the coronavirus varies in its severity. People with compromised immune systems, or those with chronic disease, are at the highest risk, including the elderly. The majority of people who have died have been over 60 years of age, with most of them being men.
Travel to China is obviously another risk factor for being exposed. In fact, most of the people who have become infected are those who have visited China from their own countries.
10. Prevention Is Best
There are ways to reduce your risk of becoming infected with the coronavirus. Thoroughly wash your hands with soap and warm water for a minimum of 20 seconds several times a day, especially if you’ve been in close proximity to someone who is sick.
Keep your hands off your face, notably your mouth and nose, and cover both when coughing or sneezing. Avoid exposure by staying away from people who are known to be infected.
Disinfect frequently touched surfaces, and stay home if you’re not feeling well. Your immune system is likely compromised, and will increase your risk.
Viral outbreaks are frightening and the coronavirus is no exception. Protect yourself by keeping your immune system strong. Eat a nutritious diet, get enough sleep, make time for self-care, and take immune-boosting supplements. Education is key when it comes to disease- prevention, which will always be the best medicine.
How has the coronavirus touched your life? Let me know in the comments:)
(1) WebMED: Coronavirus
(2) MedlinePlus: Coronavirus Infections
(3) CDC: Common Human Coronaviruses
(4) CNN health: Coronavirus explained: What you need to know
(5) EXPRESS: Coronavirus death toll: How many have died from deadly virus? How many infected?
(6) Deaths From Corona Virus: How many deaths From Coronavirus