Coronavirus: A Deadly Virus Spreading from China

Coronaviruses are a group of viruses that have a halo, or crown-like (corona) appearance when viewed under an electron microscope.

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Neucrad Health News Desk January 23, 2020

During December 2019, a mysterious virus causing pneumonia-like symptoms started spreading in the Wuhan City, Hubei Province of China. Within a month, the deadly virus has infected over 550, and the death toll has now risen to seventeen. Doctors have identified the pathogen as a strain of ‘Coronavirus’, a close cousin of the SARS virus. Infection of patients was also reported from Thailand, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, and even the United States (1). Most countries have issued a warning to travellers visiting China and asked them to undertake adequate protective measures to safeguard against the infection. Have a look at the symptoms, treatment, and preventive measures of this deadly virus.

What is Coronavirus?

The coronavirus is a member of the family Coronaviridae and resembles a spiked ring under the electron microscope. Scientists have named in coronavirus, due to the presence of innumerable crown-like projections forming a halo-like structure. Upon detailed investigations, scientists could establish that the virus uses the spikes to bind to host cells and start reproduction. Structurally, this virus consists of a strand of RNA (Ribonucleic Acid) and can cause both severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) like symptoms. The physician and scientist community across the globe have become highly concerned about the outbreak of this infection. Between November 2002 and July 2003, a SARS outbreak in Southern China infected 8098 cases and caused death to  774 individuals. Similarly, a MERS outbreak in September 2012, infected about 124 patients and resulted in 52 deaths in Saudi Arabia. (1, 2)

From where did the Coronavirus originate?

Most people speculate that the deadly Coronavirus originated at the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan. It is a popular market selling fishes, processed meat products, and other living animals including chicken, donkey, goad, snake, etc.

Gothic, Fantasy, Girl, Mysterious, Dark

Since coronavirus is zoonotic, it is common among animals. However, in some rare circumstances, it can even transmit to human beings. Bat is the common origin of source. but this time it may be originated from snake as per recent evidences from genetic code analysis.

What are the different types of Coronavirus?

Until now, scientists have documents six different strains of Coronavirus causing infections in human beings.

  • 229E (alpha coronavirus)
  • NL63 (alpha coronavirus)
  • OC43 (beta coronavirus)
  • HKU1 (beta coronavirus)
  • MERS-CoV (causing MERS or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome)
  • SARS-CoV (causing SARS or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome)

The first four types of Coronavirus produce mild symptoms, while the last two can cause severe symptoms which can even lead to complications.

But this time it is named as 2019-nCoV by World Health Organization (WHO) for its novelty.

What are the symptoms of Coronavirus?

The coronavirus affects the upper respiratory tract of human beings and causes common-cold like symptoms. Infected people experience a runny nose, sore throat, cough, fever, and headache. However, if MERS-CoV or SARS-CoV cause infection, then the symptoms become more severe.

Fever, Sick, Cold, Flu, Thermometer

Patients experience very high temperature, diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath, and exacerbated asthma in these cases. There are also chances of developing complications like pneumonia, bronchitis, and kidney damage. The mortality rate of MERS-CoV is also much higher than the Novel Coronavirus. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around three to four individuals out of ten patients succumb to this infection.

How does Coronovirus spread from infected patients to healthy individuals?

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Coronavirus is a zoonotic virus originating primarily in animals like bat. However, it can also get transmitted to human beings if they come in direct contact with infected mediator animals. Human-to-human transmission of this virus can occur by contacting the secretions of infected individuals. Cough droplets, sneeze, handshake, or touching clothes and utensils of patients are some common mode of contracting the virus.

Is there any treatment for Coronavirus?

Currently, there is no specific treatment for Coronavirus. In most cases, patients notice an improvement in their conditions on their own. Drinking plenty of fluids, rest, and pain-relieving drugs can soothe the symptoms. However, if symptoms become severe, then doctors can prescribe medications to control the situation.

How can you prevent the spread of Coronavirus?

Here are some of the ways of limiting the spread of Coronavirus:

  • Cleaning hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Covering mouth and nose while coughing and sneezing with a clean cloth.
  • Infected person should avoid direct contact with healthy people.

References:

1: Responding to global infectious disease outbreaks: Lessons from SARS on the role of risk perception, communication and management

2: Coronavirus

3: Novel Coronavirus

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