A few weeks ago, the internet broke with the sad news of a deadly virus going round. It first broke out in Wuhan, China and started spreading to other countries. Nations took charge of the situation and put infected persons in quarantine while coming up with measures to save the uninfected ones.
Countries like the United States took drastic steps to evacuate their citizens residing in China to protect them from the deadly virus. It was like a mad house with everyone rallying round to protect themselves and curb the spread. Even here in Nigeria, the government made the little effort they could to prevent the spread and prepare for an epidemic.
What exactly is Corona Virus?
Corona viruses make up a large family of viruses that can infect birds, mammals and humans according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
These viruses have been responsible for several outbreaks around the world, including the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) pandemic of 2002-2003 and the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) outbreak in South Korea in 2015. Most recently, a novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) triggered an outbreak in China in December 2019, sparking international concern.
While some Corona viruses have caused devastating epidemics, others cause mild to moderate respiratory infections, like the common cold.
All Corona viruses sport spiky projections on their outer surfaces that resemble the points of a crown, or “corona” in Latin, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Seven known Corona viruses can infect humans, including the novel Corona virus identified in December, 2019.
Beneath a Corona virus’s pronged exterior lies a round core shrouded in proteins and a “greasy” membrane, Jan Carette, an associate professor of microbiology and immunology at the Stanford University School of Medicine, told Live Science in an email. The core contains genetic material that the virus can inject into vulnerable cells to infect them. So-called spike proteins extend from within the core to the viral surface and allow the virus to “recognize and latch onto” specific cells in the body, Carette said.
Several Corona viruses utilize animals as their primary hosts and have evolved to infect humans, too. Precursors to both SARS and MERS Corona viruses appear in bats. The SARS virus jumped from bats to civets (small, nocturnal mammals) on its way into people, while MERS infected camels before spreading to humans. Evidence suggests that the novel Corona virus also jumped from bats to humans after passing through an intermediate carrier, although scientists have not yet identified the infectious middleman creature.
Symptoms of Corona Virus:
In humans, Corona viruses typically cause a respiratory infection with mild to severe flu-like symptoms, but the exact symptoms vary depending on the type of Corona virus.
Other symptoms include; runny nose, headache, cough, sore throat and fever.
When the virus infects a person with a weak immune system, it can progress to a more severe lower-respiratory infection like Pneumonia or Bronchitis.
Corona viruses can be transmitted between humans through respiratory droplets that infected people expel when they breathe, cough or sneeze.
Treatment Of Corona Virus:
Doctors can test their patients for Corona virus infections by analyzing respiratory specimens and serum isolated from their blood, according to the CDC.
There are no available treatments for any human Corona virus, according to the CDC. Those who catch a common Corona virus usually recover on their own and can ease the process by taking pain and fever medications, using a humidifier, taking hot showers, drinking plenty of fluids and staying at home to rest. Similar regimens are used to relieve the symptoms of more severe Corona virus infections.
Several existing antiviral medications, originally intended to treat Ebola and malaria, may show some efficacy against the novel Corona virus, Live Science previously reported. These medications disable viruses by interfering with their attempts to replicate in host cells. Another class of drugs, called “protease inhibitors,” also shows promise against Corona viruses and helps to alert the immune system to viral invaders.
Research groups around the world are now racing to develop a vaccine for the novel Corona virus; the CDC aims to have such a vaccine ready for clinical trials within three months. If and when a vaccine is developed, health officials will have to evaluate how the outbreak has evolved before conducting further tests and eventually administering the vaccine.
To prevent the spread of the virus in your own little way, you can do the following:
- Always wash your hands with soap and clean water, especially after getting home from a stressful day.
- Get a hand sanitizer and use it frequently.
- Clean and disinfect your home thoroughly.
- Avoid touching sensitive areas like your face, eyes and mouth frequently.
- Report any suspicious case or symptoms of the virus around you to the nearest health center immediately.