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Coronavirus Outbreak: Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention

The recent Wuhan Coronavirus is a novel type of coronaviruses, which are fairly common and may infect your respiratory function including nose, sinuses and upper throat. Most types of coronaviruses aren’t dangerous for humans.

However, there are a few types that have proven to be deadly. Like the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), which was first reported in Saudi Arabia back in 2012 and claimed the lives of 858 people globally. The MERS was spread across the Middle East region and in various parts of Africa, Europe, Asia, and North-America. The MERS got another outbreak in 2015, this time in Korea. This was the second biggest outbreak of the MERS, outside the Middle East region. Another type of coronavirus that has in the past proven deadly for humans is Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). Interestingly, SARS also originated in China in the province of Guangdong, in 2003 and claimed 774 lives. There hasn’t been another outbreak of SARS, ever since.

The latest outbreak of coronavirus was reported in December 2019, in Wuhan, China. The World Health Organization (WHO) has named it the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV).

As mentioned above, generally coronaviruses aren’t of much health concern and mostly affect the respiratory functions of the body; running nose, sore throat, etc. These can be treated with over-the-counter medication. In some cases, coronaviruses may also result in middle ear infections, however, this is more common in children.

What Is a Coronavirus?

The coronaviruses were first identified in the late 60s, however, the source of its origin isn’t confirmed. The name “Corona” was given due to its crown-like shape. While coronaviruses are more common in animals, it may sometime get transmitted to humans.

Almost all types of coronaviruses are contagious and can spread through the air, coughing, sneezing, bodily fluids, etc. It can also infect objects which when touched by a person can get transmitted through mouth or eyes or nose.

A surprising fact which most people don’t realize is that almost every person on earth gets infected with some type of coronaviruses at least once in their life; children are more vulnerable, though.

Common Symptoms of Coronavirus

The common symptoms of coronaviruses are much similar like several other types of respiratory infections like sore throat, running nose, acute cough, and occasional fever among others. Most people won’t realize that they are infected with coronavirus, as all its symptoms are similar to common cold viruses, like rhinovirus.

As of today, there isn’t any specific lab test to identify 2019-nCoV, however, your doctor may prescribe you with some lab tests for common viruses, just to rule them out and confirm the diagnosis of Wuhan Novel Coronavirus.

In most cases, coronaviruses aren’t deadly for humans. In fact, the latest 2019-nCoV also only impacts people with a weakened immune system. For most people, the symptoms will go away with time, however, people with a weakened immune system may develop bronchitis or pneumonia.

Coronavirus becomes deadly if it spreads to the windpipe and lungs (lower respiratory tract). This may cause the person to develop pneumonia or other severe conditions. People with early medical conditions like heart diseases or weak immune systems are especially vulnerable to coronavirus.

Diagnosis

Laboratory tests for “respiratory specimens and serum” may be prescribed by your doctor to diagnose the presence of coronavirus. 

Presently, different countries including China, Singapore, the USA and others have been able to create diagnosis kit for Coronavirus, thanks to the fast availability of the genome of the 2019-nCoV by China and the presence of PCR technology; which was developed in the aftermath of SARS breakout. 

While the testing protocols worldwide aren’t similar, the diversity in the testing protocols are a plus. The diversity of testing protocols offer backup options to scientists for if the virus mutates or the desired result of test are doubtful, they can always jump to the other test.

Transmission

The 2019-nCoV is a contagious virus which transmitted from animals to humans and subsequently can spread through:

  • The air
  • Close contact (touching, handshaking, kissing) the infected person
  • Touching an object with virus on it, and then subsequently touching your mouth, eyes or nose
  • Fecal contamination (rare)

Prevention

As of today, there isn’t any specific vaccination developed to treat 2019-nCoV, which is one reason for the panic amongst the general public and health scientists. However, you can take the following measures to prevent getting infected:

  • Increase hand washing (especially if you touch a surface or shake hand with another person)
  • Avoid touching nose, eyes or mouth without washing your hands
  • Avoid contact with infected people
  • If you are having a cold, make sure to stay at home and take maximum rest
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Cover your mouth and nose with surgeon’s grade mask
  • Disinfect objects and surfaces regularly

Treatment

As said earlier, there isn’t any specific vaccination developed to treat the Wuhan coronavirus. However, just like most types of coronavirus, the 2019-nCoV goes away with time and most patients will recover on their own. However, for patients with an earlier medical history or weak immune system, it may be deadly. Common medication for the coronavirus may include:

  • Fever medication
  • Pain reliever
  • Room humidifier
  • Hot shower (to relieve sore throat and cough)
  • Increase intake of fluids
  • Plenty of rest

If you notice any common symptoms for Coronavirus, you should immediately consult your healthcare provider.

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