Coronavirus: A Global Health Emergency

What is a coronavirus?

Hector Retamal/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

They are extremely common causes of colds and upper respiratory infections. These viruses can infect animals and can spread from one animal to the next. If certain mutations in the virus occur, they can also spread to humans.


Why is it in the news now?

In December of 2019 Chinese health authorities reported various cases of viral pneumonia to the World Health Organization (W.H.O.) Many of these sick people ate sea food and animal meat from a local market in Wuhan, China. While many believe this is the original cause of the virus, it has since been proven that it can be spread from person to person. As of today, 7818 cases have been confirmed and 170 people have died because of it. The W.H.O. met today in order to declare the coronavirus as a international public health emergency.


What are the symptoms?

They can include a cough, possibly with a fever and shortness of breath. Some non-respiratory symptoms include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Many recover after a few days. The young, elderly, and folks with weaker immune systems often develop more serious infections such as pneumonia or bronchitis.


How is it treated?

Scientists from many different countries are working hard together to better understand the virus. Right now, there are no approved antivirals for this coronavirus. This means treatment is supportive. In other words, treatment is there to help manage and alleviate patients' discomfort or symptoms. For very sick patients staying in an intensive care unit (ICU) can be lifesaving.


The bottom line.

Unless you have come in direct contact with somebody from Wuhan, China there is no need to worry about catching the coronavirus right now. There have only been two confirmed cases in the United States of coronavirus but this number will likely rise due to the nature of the virus. The typical coronavirus spreads through large droplets which can only be suspended in the air for 3 to 6 feet before dissipating. So, it's likely the virus is being spread through coughs or sneezes. Click here to learn about 5 ways you can avoid the coronavirus.  It’s important to know that since we are more interconnected than ever, it is likely for the virus to spread immensely. This should not be a reason to panic as the best scientists in the world are uniting to come up with a solution. 


Citations:


Ellerin, T. (2020, January 27). The new coronavirus: What we do - and don't - know. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/the-new-coronavirus-what-we-do-and-dont-know-2020012518747


The New York Times. (2020, January 30). Coronavirus Live Updates: W.H.O. Declares a Global Health Emergency. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/30/world/asia/coronavirus-china.html#link-3b30d41a

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