The recent news item of a new coronavirus in China that is spreading to multiple countries and is responsible for 6 deaths with possible more on the way caught my attention. Then when I saw that Shanghai Disneyland closed from fear of the spread and intensity of this virus, I became increasingly concerned. Very rarely do you see large businesses close due to a health scare.
The Chinese government is admitting that 291 people have been infected and 6 people have died from this virus strain. The initial outbreak is thought to originate in a seafood market in the city of Wuhan. From there it spread to family members and some health care workers.
With international travel available in almost every country and the number of people internationally traveling for work or vacations increasing yearly, rarely does a virus not cross spread to another locale. Cases from this outbreak are now popping up in Thailand, Japan and South Korea according to the January 2020 report by the World Health Organization. In China there are temperature checks at the airports and face masks are selling out in the hopes of stopping the disease from spreading.
So, what exactly is a coronavirus?
According to dictionary.com: a coronavirus is any of various single-stranded, RNA-containing viruses that cause respiratory infection in humans and resemble a crown when viewed under an electron microscope because of their petal-shaped projections
For those of us who don’t identify viruses by their shape under a microscope a coronavirus is a virus similar to the virus that causes a regular cold but can cause acute respiratory illness and possibly death.
SARS – Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome is a type of coronavirus. SARS is contagious and can be fatal. With SARS you can experience flu like symptoms, fever, chills, muscle aches, headache, diarrhea, fever, dry cough, shortness of breath.
MERS – Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome is a type of coronavirus. This is contagious and can be fatal. You generally need to be in the Middle East or traveled in the Middle East to catch this strain. MERS began as a coronavirus that originated in camels and spread to humans.
- Upper respiratory tract illness
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
- Body aches
- Lower respiratory tract illness like pneumonia or bronchitis
- Having direct contact with someone infected. (Family Members and Health Care Workers)
- Older than 60
- Having Diabetes
- Having Hepatitis
How is a coronavirus spread?
- Actually it spreads just like the common cold or flu.
- Through the air by a cough or sneeze of an infected person
- Touching an infected person
- Touching an object or surface with the virus on it and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes.
Your doctor may want to run laboratory test on your respiratory fluid or take a blood sample to check for a human coronavirus, particularly if you have recently traveled abroad to an area of infection.
- There are no vaccines so you need to treat the symptoms.
- Take pain medication and fever medications.
- Use a humidifier and take a hot shower to help ease cough and congestion.
- Drink plenty of liquids.
- Stay home. Do not go to work or school. If the coronavirus is SARS you are still able to infect someone for 10 days after all symptoms have disappeared.
- Avoid close contact with those who are sick.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
- Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces. (Don’t forget door knobs, light switches and mobile phones)
- Don’ share cups, water bottles or utensils with others.
A coronavirus can be mild or severe. If you don’t know the cause of your symptoms it may be wise to be checked out by a health care professional. They can help identify what is going on in your body and make you aware of any complications that may be present. While we should not panic it is a good idea to practice some healthy habits that can keep us safe from lots of the viruses out there.
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