What to know about coronaviruses
Coronaviruses (2019-nCov) are types of viruses that typically affect the respiratory tract of mammals, including humans. They are associated with the common cold, pneumonia, and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and can also affect the gut.
A coronavirus was first isolated in 1937 from an infectious bronchitis virus in birds that has the ability to seriously devastate poultry stocks.
These viruses are responsible for between 15 and 30 percent of common colds.
Over the last 70 years, scientists have found that coronaviruses can infect mice, rats, dogs, cats, turkeys, horses, pigs, and cattle. Most recently, authorities identified a coronavirus outbreak in China that has now reached other countries.
Fast facts on coronaviruses
*There is no cure for the common cold.
*A coronavirus causes both Severely Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).
*Coronaviruses infect many different species.
*There are seven known human coronaviruses.
*SARS spread from China to cause infection in 37 countries, killing 774 people.
Human coronaviruses (HCoV) were first identified in the 1960s in the noses of patients with the common cold. Two human coronaviruses are responsible for a large proportion of common colds OC43 and 229E.
Coronaviruses were given their name based on the crown-like projections on their surfaces. “Corona” in Latin means “halo” or “crown.”
Among humans, infection most often occurs during the winter months as well as early spring. It is not uncommon for a person to become ill with a cold that is caused by a coronavirus and then catch it again about four months later.
This is because coronavirus antibodies do not last for a very long time. Also, the antibodies for one strain of coronavirus may be useless against other strains.
Cold- or flu-like symptoms usually set in from two to four days after coronavirus infection, and they are typically mild. However, symptoms vary from person to person, and some forms of the virus can be fatal.
Symptoms include: sneezing; a runny nose; fatigue; a cough; in rare cases, fever; a sore throat and exacerbated asthma.
Human coronaviruses cannot be cultivated in the laboratory easily, unlike the rhinovirus, another cause of the common cold. This makes it difficult to gauge the coronavirus’ impact on national economies and public health.
There is no cure, so treatments include taking care of yourself and over-the-counter (OTC) medication:
*Rest and avoid overexertion.
*Drink enough water.
*Avoid smoking and smoky areas.
*Take acetaminophen, ibuprofen or naproxen to reduce pain and fever.
*Use a clean humidifier or cool mist vaporizer.
The virus responsible can be diagnosed by taking a sample of respiratory fluids, such as mucus from the nose, or blood.
Different types of human coronaviruses vary in the severity of illness they cause and how far they can spread. There are currently seven recognized types of coronavirus that can infect humans.
Common types include: 229E (alpha coronavirus); NL63 (alpha coronavirus); OC43 (beta coronavirus) and HKU1 (beta coronavirus).
There has not been a great deal of research on how a human coronavirus spreads from one person to the next.
However, it is believed that the viruses transmit using secreted fluid from the respiratory system.
Coronaviruses can spread in the following ways:
*Coughing and sneezing without covering the mouth can disperse droplets into the air, spreading the virus.
*Touching or shaking hands with a person that has the virus can pass the virus from one person to another.
*Making contact with a surface or object that has the virus and then touching your nose, eyes, or mouth.
*On rare occasions, a coronavirus may spread through contact with feces.
People in the U.S. are more likely to contract the disease in the winter or fall. The disease is still active during the rest of the year. Young people are most likely to contract a coronavirus, and people can contract more than one infection over the course of a lifetime. Most people will become infected with at least one coronavirus in their life.
It is said that the mutating abilities of the coronavirus are what make it so contagious.
To prevent transmission, be sure to stay at home and rest while experiencing symptoms and avoid close contact with other people. Covering the mouth and nose with a tissue or handkerchief while coughing or sneezing can also help prevent the spread of a coronavirus. Be sure to dispose of any used tissues and maintain hygiene around the home.
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