Coronavirus (CoV) is a large family of viruses that are common in different species of animals but are zoonotic (can be transmitted between animals and people). The name comes from its look as (when observed under a microscope) it appears to be covered by spiky structures that remind of a crown. Some of these viruses may cause the common cold or mild respiratory diseases whereas others can cause severe diseases such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome(MERS-CoV). Recently in December 2019, a new type called 2019 novel coronavirus outbroke from Wuhan, a city in China. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared this 2019nCoV a public health emergency after its outbreak impacting internationally.
Types of Coronavirus
Coronavirus has been classified into different categories depending on the severity of the illness they cause.
- NL63 (alpha coronavirus)
- 229E (alpha coronavirus)
- OC43 (beta coronavirus)
- HKU1 (beta coronavirus)
- MERS-CoV leads to Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). Symptoms involve fever, breathlessness, and coughing. In the case of MERS, the disease spreads through close contact with people who have already been infected.
- SARS-CoV causes severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) that starts with a fever and later develops flu-like symptoms, such as aches, dry coughing, breathlessness, chills. This syndrome can infect both the upper and lower respiratory tract. At its advanced stage can lead to failure of the lungs, heart, or liver. SARS can also lead to gastroenteritis (a condition concerning inflammation of the lining of the gut).
Most coronavirus symptoms may be confusing as they are similar to flu or any other upper respiratory infection (runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, cough, and at times fever). So no specific treatment can be provided for the virus. Also, no preventive vaccine for 2019nCoV is currently known. Hence the only way to prevent oneself from the virus is not being exposed to it.
Thus, to keep away from viruses we need to follow our daily tried and tested general hygiene rules (mentioned below), also suggested by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
- Frequently wash hands thoroughly with soap & water particularly after using a washroom, blowing your nose or before eating as viruses might hold on to your hands.
- In case of unavailability of soap & water, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer(with at least 60% alcohol).
- Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth with dirty hands.
- Clean/Disinfect objects & surfaces like doorknobs that are frequently touched by people.
- Use a tissue to cover your cough or sneeze and dispose of the tissue to the trash.
- Stay away from an infected person.
- Maintain distance if you are a victim or feel sick.
Treating Coronavirus infection is similar to treating cold. So:
- Take plenty of rest.
- Keep yourself hydrated by drinking fluids.
- Take medicine for sore throat or symptoms of fever. Use Ibuprofen/Acetaminophen instead of giving Asprin to children or young teens
- Use a humidifier to ease a sore & scratchy throat.
Note: People who recently visited Wuhan or spent time around ones who traveled to any such infected areas should strictly monitor themselves for any developing symptom. Take preventive measures as well as good care of yourself but avoid any negligence. Reach out to a doctor if things start getting out of hand.