With over 2,000 infected worldwide with the deadly coronavirus, a top Chinese health official warned that the “epidemic is now entering a more serious and complex period.
Worse still, the new coronavirus can cause infections with no symptoms and sicken otherwise healthy people, according to studies.
About 858 people have died from Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), which first appeared in 2012 in Saudi Arabia and then in other countries in the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and Europe. In April 2014, the first American was hospitalized for MERS in Indiana and another case was reported in Florida. Both had just returned from Saudi Arabia. In May 2015, there was an outbreak of MERS in Korea, which was the largest outbreak outside of the Arabian Peninsula. In 2003, 774 people died from a severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak. As of 2015, there were no further reports of cases of SARS. MERS and SARS are types of coronaviruses.
But in early January 2020, the World Health Organization identified a new type: 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in China. By late January, there were 300 confirmed cases in China and a death count that was still in the single digits, but rising. And despite airport screenings, a traveler had brought the first case to the U.S.
What is coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are a group of viruses that cause diseases in mammals, including humans and birds. In humans, the virus causes respiratory infections which are typically mild, but may rarely be lethal. In cows and pigs they may cause diarrhea, while in chickens it can cause an upper respiratory disease.
They are named for the crown-like spikes on the surface of the virus. Some coronaviruses only affect animals, but others can also affect humans. Most people get infected with human coronaviruses at some time in their life. This usually causes mild to moderate upper-respiratory infections, like the common cold. But they can also cause more severe illnesses such as bronchitis and pneumonia.
There are several different types of human coronaviruses, including the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) viruses.
How are coronavirus infections spread?
Human coronaviruses usually spread from an infected person to others through the following.
- The air by coughing and sneezing
- Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
- Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes before washing your hands
- Rarely, feces (poop)
Who is at risk for coronavirus infections?
Anyone can get a coronavirus infection, but young children are most likely to get infected. In the United States, infections are more common in the fall and winter.
What are the symptoms of coronavirus infections?
The symptoms depend on the type of coronavirus and how serious the infection is. If you have a mild to moderate upper-respiratory infection such as the common cold, your symptoms may include
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
- Not feeling well overall
Some coronaviruses can cause severe symptoms. The infections may turn into bronchitis and pneumonia, which cause symptoms such as the following.
- Fever, which may be quite high if you have pneumonia
- Cough with mucus
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain or tightness when you breathe and cough
- Severe infections are more common in people with heart or lung diseases, people with weakened immune systems, infants, and older adults.
How are coronavirus infections diagnosed?
To make a diagnosis, your health care provider will
- Take your medical history, including asking about your symptoms
- Do a physical exam
- May do blood tests
- May do lab tests of sputum, a sample from a throat swab, or other respiratory specimens
What are the treatments for coronavirus infections?
There are no specific treatments for coronavirus infections. Most people will get better on their own. However, you can relieve your symptoms by
- Taking over-the-counter medicines for pain, fever, and cough. However, do not give aspirin to children. And do not give cough medicine to children under four.
- Using a room humidifier or taking a hot shower to help ease a sore throat and cough
- Getting plenty of rest
- Drinking fluids
If you are worried about your symptoms, contact your health care provider.
Can coronavirus infections be prevented?
Right now, there aren’t any vaccines to prevent human coronavirus infections. But you may able to reduce your risk of getting or spreading an infection by doing the following.
- Washing hands often with soap and water for at least 20 second
- Avoiding touching your face, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
- Avoiding close contact with people who are sick
- Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces that you frequently touch
- Covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue. Then throw away the tissue and wash your hands.
- Staying home when sick
NB: From all us of at TopNaija, we receive wisdom for our scientists, medical expert and leaders to curb and end this deadly epidemic as soon as possible. Pending this time, please stay safe.
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