By now, you have heard about the Coronavirus, that originated in Wuhan, China. In late January, 2020, the World health Organization (WHO), declared Coronavirus as a Global Health Emergency.
Here's what you need to know about it, the latest news, and how to protect yourself and your family.
Coronavirus is an airborne respiratory illness that appears to have originated in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. Chinese authorities identified the new variant of coronavirus. By late January, 2020, there were over 1,000 confirmed cases in China, including cases outside Wuhan City. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating, testing and monitoring as additional cases have been identified in a growing number of other international locations, including the United States. There are already more than 100 deaths, all in China.
The official name for the virus is the 2019 Novel Coronavirus, or 2019-nCoV. Learn about Novel Coronavirus from the CDC.
The World Health Organization says:
Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV) . A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.
On February 11, 2020 the World Health Organization announced they have given an official name for the disease that is causing the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak, COVID-19.
Following the spread of the virus is an important way to assess the risk of the virus to you. Keep in mind that it appears that China has known about the virus for weeks or months and has been actively suppressing and downplaying the true numbers, including reports of suppressing it's own citizens who attempt to report on it. This suggests that the numbers inside China may be far higher, even double those reported. You can see the spread on a mapping tool on this website.
The World Health Organization daily situation reports are here.
In descending order, most cases to least (as of February 5, 2020), country then number of cases. Note: it is likely that there are also many cases in North Korea, but of course, they aren't saying anything!
Similar to the flu, SARS, MERS and other respiratory viruses, symptoms reported for patients with coronavirus include mild to severe respiratory illness with fever , cough, and difficulty breathing. Read about 2019-nCoV Symptoms.
This virus probably originally started from an animal source (some Chinese eat wild animals, such as snakes, bats, rats, etc, which carry new forms of viruses). Coronaviruses are common in many different species of animals, including camels and bats. Rarely, these coronaviruses can evolve and infect humans and then spread between humans. Recent examples of this include SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV. Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people. Detailed investigations found that SARS-CoV was transmitted from civet cats to humans and MERS-CoV from dromedary camels to humans. Several known coronaviruses are circulating in animals that have not yet infected humans.When humans eat these animals, sometimes the viruses in the animal mutate and become able to infect humans. The Coronavirus appears to have done this and is spreading from person-to-person.
It appears that this virus is airborne, being spread but droplets from a respiratory tract, such as sneezes, coughs, mucus, saliva, etc. Touching the droplets and then rubbing your eyes, face, mouth, etc. is the most likely form of infection. The droplets containing the virus could be left on surfaces like doorknobs, tables, cellphones, etc. Or being close to an infected person (6 - 8 ft) could also result in infection. .
This is a rapidly evolving situation and the CDC's risk assessment is also changing rapidly. The latest updates are available on CDC's 2019 Novel Coronavirus website.
There are very, very few people in the U.S currently showing infection (3 or 4, in the whole United States). See the current U.S. case count of infection with 2019-nCoV. At present, the risk for those in the U.S. is very low. By comparison, each year there are about 12,000 to 61,000 deaths annually in the U.S. caused by the flu.
There is currently no vaccine to prevent 2019-nCoV infection. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus. The CDC always recommends commonsense preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including:
Like ALL viruses, there is no specific antiviral treatment recommended for coronavirus. Antibiotics do not help treat viruses (they are
anti-bacterial). People infected with 2019-nCoV should receive supportive care to help relieve symptoms. For severe cases, treatment should include
care to support vital organ functions. People who think they may have been exposed to 2019-nCoV should contact your healthcare provider immediately.
See the CDC's Interim Coronavirus Guidance for Healthcare Professionals for information on patients under investigation .
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing illness in people and others that circulate among animals, including camels, cats and bats. SARS is another form of coronavirus that emerged to infect people, came from civet cats. MERS, another coronavirus variant, came from camels. More information about the source and spread of 2019-nCoV is available on the CDC 2019-nCoV Situation Summary: Source and Spread of the Virus.