Public health experts all over the world are concerned regarding the rapidly spreading pneumonia-like illness in the city of Wuhan, China. When the health officials from China informed the World Health Organization about the disease, they quickly recognized it to be a coronavirus. The new kind of coronavirus has already infected more than 2,740 people killing 80 so far. The experts have warned that the death toll will almost certainly rise.
What is a coronavirus?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that may cause respiratory illness. The infections are mostly seen among animals worldwide, but a few of them affect humans. Since the start of the century, two other coronaviruses jumped to humans, causing the SARS outbreak in 2003 and the MERS outbreak in 2012. More than 8000 people were infected, and 774 people died, when the SARS outbreak began in 2003. In 2012, the MERS spread over 24 countries with over 1,000 cases of the virus and over 400 deaths. The new virus has also been confirmed to be a new coronavirus, belonging to the same family.
What are the symptoms?
People who have been diagnosed with the virus tend to have a fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. As per health authorities, the symptoms can manifest two to 14 days after the exposure. The symptoms are similar to those caused by SARS. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that there are no specific treatments for coronavirus, and they will recover on their own.
What is the source of the virus?
The virus first occurred in Wuhan people who visited a local seafood and animal market. Officials are anticipating that the virus will spread to humans from animals at the beginning of December 2019. However, it is not clear what type of animal originated the virus. Depending on the genetic code of the virus, Chinese researchers have claimed that it came from snakes, the many-banded krait, and the Chinese cobra. Another analysis found that the sequence of the new virus is 96 percent identical to one coronavirus found in bats.
Is there any treatment available?
There is no specific treatment discovered to fight with the coronavirus. To get rid of the symptoms, one needs to take rest and medication. One should also drink a lot of fluids. Some pharmaceutical experts have informed that the US and China started to work on a vaccine that may take one year to get available.
What precautions should be taken?
The virus is spreading rapidly. The Chinese government has blocked most of the travel to and from Wuhan along with 12 other nearby cities. Scientists said the virus is adapting to humans much faster than SARS did. To protect yourself, you must cover your mouth, wash your hands properly very often, and stay away from affected people. Avoid consuming dead or live animals, animal markets or products that come from animals such as uncooked meat warned the CDC. If you get infected by the virus, you must stay alone in a room, separating yourself from other people in the house. The affected person also must make sure to cover his/her coughs and sneezes, so that the virus doesn’t get spread.
How far has the virus spread?
First reported in Wuhan, China, the virus has already spread to several other countries, including Thailand, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the United States, Australia, France, Taiwan, among others. A man in Toronto was infected with the virus after he visited Wuhan. On January 21, the first case was confirmed in the U.S. A man from Washington recently traveled to Wuhan and got affected by the deadly virus. CDC is also investigating more than 60 people in 22 states for possible infection with the new virus.