The Coronavirus is actually a large family of viruses that causes illness. Coronaviruses are zoonotic which means that they can be transmitted between humans and animals. Two of the more well-known Coronaviruses are Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). The Coronavirus which is currently in the news is known as 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV).
The 2019 Novel Coronavirus had not previously been identified in humans until this recent outbreak, which started in Wuhan China. It has since spread to many other countries including the United States of America. It is unclear as to how it initially started to spread, but it is speculated that it started spreading from animal-to-person and now it is also spreading from person-to-person as well.
It is speculated that it behaves similarly to MERS and SARS due to it being genetically similar, but there is still a lot that is not yet known about 2019-nCoV.
Common symptoms will typically include any of the following:
- Respiratory Symptoms
- Shortness of Breath
- Breathing Difficulties
In severe cases, the virus can cause:
- Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome
- Kidney Failure
The World Health Organization recommends the following to help prevent the spread of 2019-nCoV:
- Regularly wash your hands
- Cover your mouth and nose when sneezing/coughing
- Ensure your meat and eggs are thoroughly cooked
- Avoid others who are showing signs of respiratory illness
“In general, because of poor survivability of these coronaviruses on surfaces, there is likely very low risk of spread from products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient temperatures. Coronaviruses are generally thought to be spread most often by respiratory droplets. Currently there is no evidence to support transmission of 2019-nCoV associated with imported goods and there have not been any cases of 2019-nCoV in the United States associated with imported goods.”
The CDC released a Warning Level 3 travel alert on January 27, 2020 which means that all nonessential travel should be avoided to China at this time.
If you have recently traveled to China and have experienced any of the symptoms from above within 14 days after leaving the CDC urges you to do the following:
- Seek medical care immediately
- “Before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms”
- Avoid contact with others
- Do not travel when you are sick
- Always cover your mouth when sneezing or coughing with a tissue (not your hands)
- Wash your hands regularly with soap for at least 20 seconds to avoid spreading the virus to others.
- If possible, wear a face mask to avoid the spread of illness
Coronavirus, World Health Organization, www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus.
Frequently Asked Questions and Answers, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html.
Novel Coronavirus in China – Warning – Level 3, Avoid Nonessential Travel – Travel Health Notices, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices/warning/novel-coronavirus-china.