What is Coronavirus?
According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), coronaviruses are a group of viruses that may lead to symptoms such as runny nose, cough, sore throat, fever and even fatal conditions such as pneumonia. It gets its name from the crown-like spikes on its surface. Other types of coronavirus are SARS and MERS. The latest outbreak of this virus is called 2019-nCoV.
What is the source of the virus?
To date, the virus first surfaced in Wuhan, China. Studies reveal that most closely related viruses were two coronaviruses that originated in bats. Other studies also link the origins of the virus in snakes.
How does this novel virus spread?
Studies are still ongoing as to how the virus spreads from person to person. Dr. Mark Denison, a virologist at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee said, “While we do not know all of the mechanisms of spread of the epidemic so far, there is likely spread by droplets and contaminated surfaces, and possible airborne [spread], similar to SARS.”
Generally, the virus spreads through close contact with an infected person coughing and sneezing on others. Contact with the virus particles on a surface also spreads the infection. For example, if an infected person coughs or sneezes onto a surface such as a door knob or countertop, any person who touches that surface and then rubs their eyes or nose will get sick. Exposure to feces or bodily fluids of an infected person are also believed to spread the virus.
Based on confirmed cases, CDC has reported that common symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath
It is believed that the symptoms can surface within 2 days and even take as long as 14 days.
Important Prevention Measures
In the absence of a vaccine to combat the virus, an infection can only be prevented by avoiding exposure to the virus.
(Image credits: World Health Organization)
For those who have travelled to China, in particular, Wuhan, seek immediate medical attention if you experience fever, flu, cough or difficulty in breathing in the following weeks. Call or inform the medical authorities of your recent travel.
Featured image sourced from fda.gov