Understanding Coronavirus

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Introduction

The Coronovirus is a relatively common group of viruses believed to be responsible for a the majority of common colds. Coronavirus’ are also the infectious agent responsible for the 2003 asian outbreak of SARS​1​ (Severe acute respiratory syndrome). More recently, the 2019-2020 Chinese pneumonia outbreak in Wuhan province has been traced to a newer strain of the virus known as 2019-nCoV​2​.

coronavirus
Coronavirus as seen through an Electron Microscope

Most people will be infected with a variant of coronavirus sometime in their lifetime with the elderly, young children, and immunocomprised most at risk.

Coronaviruses usually cause mild to moderate upper-respiratory tract infections such as the common cold. Two strains of coronavirus, known as MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV, have been known to frequently cause severe symptoms and infection of the lower respiratory tract. While no new cases of SARS have been reported worldwide since 2004, MERS cases continue to occur, primariliy in the Arabian peninsula, with approximately 30-40% of cases resulting in fatality.

Signs and Symptoms

Symptoms of Coronavirus may include;

  • sore throat
  • runny nose
  • cough
  • fever
  • muscle pain
  • lethargy
  • general feeling of being unwell

Prevention and Treatment

There is currently no vaccine available for any known strains of Coronavirus. Simple hand hygiene practices have been shown to be effective in reducing the risk of contracting coronavirus in most cases. Avoiding close contact with sick individuals, and thoroughly washing hands after contact with sik individuals has also been shown to be effective in preventing infection.

Nurse helps elderly patient

There is no specific treatment for illnesses caused by coronavises, with the majority of patients recovering on thier own.

Transmission

Coronaviruses are generally considered to to be contagious, most commonly spread from an infected patient through

  • the air, by coughing or sneezing
  • close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
  • poor hand hygiene
  • touching a contaminated object or surface, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes prior to washing hands
  • fecal contamination (rarely)

Although incidences of coronavirus are highest around autumn and winter, infection can occur year round.

SARS (Severe acute respiratory syndrome)

SARS is a strain of Coronavirus known as SARS-CoV and was the primary infectious agent responsible for the 2002-2003 outbreak in southern China which resulted in 8,098 confirmed cases, and 774 fatalities. It is important to note however that there has been no confirmed cases of SARS since 2004.

Signs and Symptoms of SARS

Infection by the SARS virus will typically start as flu-like around 4-6 days after exposure. patients may present with few, all or none of the following symptoms

  • fever
  • muscle pain
  • lethargy
  • cough
  • sore throat

All confirmed SARS Patients have presented with a fever greater than 38°C.

As the SARS virus progresses, symptoms will generally progress to

  • shortness of breath (SOB)
  • pneumonia
  • direct viral pneumonia, or
  • secondary bacterial pneumonia
  1. 1.
    . Severe acute respiratory syndrome. Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Severe_acute_respiratory_syndrome.
  2. 2.
    . Novel coronavirus (2019)-nCoV). Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Novel_coronavirus_(2019-nCoV).

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