Coronavirus is a term used for a family for viruses, which tend to affect the respiratory tracts of mammals and birds. They can also affect humans and cause problems such as cold, cough, pneumonia, bronchitis, critical acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). The virus can also affect the gut and is typically found in animals and rare cases are transmitted from animals to humans, which further leads to spread from one human to another.
The recent outbreak from this family of viruses is the COVID-19, which is caused by an infection of SARS-CoV 2. The disease which began in Wuhan, China has now spread to more than 100 countries and territories worldwide, causing global panic and increasing the death toll to more than 4500 globally. The WHO has declared Coronavirus as a pandemic and has advised people to be aware and follow more precautions.
Among humans, the virus is most active during the winter and early springtime. The antibodies of the virus do not last for a long time, as well as one strain of antibodies could prove ineffective in comparison to the other. Amidst, rising panic, it is important to note that one cannot be infected with the virus unless there has been close contact with someone who has been inflicted with the Coronavirus.
Symptoms of Coronavirus
For COVID-19, each day, new symptoms are being registered which vary from case-to-case. This form of Coronavirus may not cause any symptoms initially. A person can carry the virus up to 2 days or 2 weeks before showing any symptoms.
That said, some general symptoms for COVID-19 include:
- Acute shortness of breath or difficulty in breathing
- Severe and progressive cough
- Low-grade but progressive fever
- Running nose
- Sore throat
- Worsened asthma
The symptoms can range from being mild to severe. People with a weak immune system or existing health problems such as heart disease, tend to be at more risk of contracting the virus and showing intense symptoms and also are at higher risk of being severely ill. Some forms of the virus can also be fatal.
Causes of Coronavirus
Coronaviruses are zoonotic implying they are formed in animals before humans. The virus is spared to the human when he/she comes in close contact with the animal that is carrying the infection. Once the virus is developed in a human, it then further spreads from person-to-person through respiratory droplets. However, in the case of COVID-19, it is unclear which animal has caused the birth of the virus. Some researchers link its origin in bats which then infected snakes or pangolins and further the humans. The COVID-19 originated from the open market in Wuhan, China.
COVID-19 can spread via contact with bodily fluids or respiratory droplets of the infected person such as cough droplets, sneezing, etc. These droplets are breathed into the respiratory tract where they cause an infection. The virus can also spread if a non-infected person touches a surface which has been touched by an infected person and uses the same hand to touch his/her mouth, nose, face, etc.
That said, some people are at more risk of being infected with the virus. These include:
- People who have recently travelled to an area with high cases of COVID-19
- People who stay in an area with high COVID-19 cases
- Close contact with an infected person such as medical personnel taking care of the patient or a family member
- People above the age of 45 years
Diagnosis of Coronavirus
The novel Coronavirus can be diagnosed using blood, saliva or tissue sample of a person. The doctor might collect a nasal swab or a throat swab to test for the virus. In case a person develops any of the symptoms of Coronavirus, immediate medical help should be taken. Any delay can cause serious impact on health and can even cause death. Moreover, it could potentially infect several other persons who come in direct or indirect contact.
Treatment of Coronavirus
Currently, there is no definitive cure or treatment for the novel Coronavirus – COVID -19. However, the treatment available is being directed to control symptoms and improve general health to enable the body to fight the infection. Some of these methods include:
- Pain killers
- Cough syrup
- Good rest
- A lot of fluid intakes
- Fever medicines
However, other forms of coronaviruses such as SARS and MERS have alternative treatment such as breathing support, steroids to reduce lung welling, blood plasma transfusions, antiviral medications, etc.
However, for COVID-19, as of today, scientists are still researching for the cure and vaccination. To treat patients, only symptoms can be managed while the virus runs its course. It can prove fatal in cases where the immune system is compromised to allow the virus to intensify. For cases, where patients experience worse symptoms than flu, immediate medical attention is needed to prevent complications.
Prevention for Coronavirus
The best prevention measure against Coronavirus is to avoid social gatherings and limit contact with people. Moreover, maintain at least 3 feet distance from people who have flu or show any symptoms of respiratory infection.
Also, basic hygiene practices go a long way to prevent the virus from entering the body. These include:
- Washing hands with soap and warm water often for at least 20 seconds at a time.
- Use an alcohol-based sanitizer where soap and water is unavailable
- Avoid touching the public surface with your bare hands
- Limit touching your face, nose, throat, etc. with your hands, especially if they are dirty
- Do not go out in case you have cold or flu symptoms. Wear a mask at all time, even if you have a mild cold or cough.
- Clean all objects that are used frequency such as phone, laptops, utensils, etc.
- Always cover your mouth with the bent elbow or a disposable tissue while you sneeze or cough. Remember to wash your hands thereafter and throw the tissue immediately.
Amid rising panic of the spread of the novel Coronavirus, it is important to understand the symptoms and prevention methods to stay safe. Seek immediate medical attention in case of any troubling symptoms that could indicate a possible virus infection.