If you’ve been paying attention to the national news lately, there’s a good chance that you’ve heard someone talking about the Chinese Coronavirus. It’s a potentially deadly virus that has sickened more than 2,700 and killed around 80 people throughout China, and has recently made its way overseas into the United States.
As of Monday, January 27, there has been a fifth confirmed case of the virus in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Health officials are working around the clock to monitor and treat patients that have become infected, and are working on quickly screening those who might have come into contact with it.
By now you might be asking: What is this virus exactly? Why did it spread so quickly in China? And what can you do to protect yourself from it?
Let’s take a quick dive into what this virus is exactly and how it got its start.
According to the CDC, the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is a type of coronavirus that was first identified as the major cause of an outbreak that started in Wuhan, China. It’s believed to be linked to a popular seafood and animal market, which caused the animal-to-person spread.
However, what’s different about this particular coronavirus is that it has evolved in a way where it has started to spread from person-to-person, which is an unusual characteristic for a coronavirus. With China’s densely populated areas, the virus has spread quickly and more rapidly than anywhere else in the world.
Symptoms of the coronavirus are similar to that of the common cold, which is why it could be tricky to identify right away. The CDC explains that reported illnesses have ranged from infected people with little to no symptoms to people being severely ill and dying. However, the most common symptoms include: fever, cough and shortness of breath.
Being aware of the symptoms, according to the CDC, may take as few as 2 days or as long as 14 after being exposed to the virus. However, during this time period, the person can be infected and could potentially spread the virus to others.
Unfortunately, the coronavirus seems to be spreading from person-to-person, particularly in China, so how is that done exactly? When a person sneezes or coughs, tiny droplets of saliva or mucus are spreading. The saliva can make contact up to around five to seven feet from the original host. Another thing that makes this virus tricky is that if an infected person touches a surface (doorknob, countertop, computer, bus seat, etc.) around them, the virus could lie dormant yet still alive for up to five days.
There are, however, ways to best prepare and protect yourself and your loved ones from the virus. Here are a few different strategies you can do:
As the virus makes its way across the sea and more people are confronted with the possible threat of becoming infected, the hope is that the virus will continue to be contained the way it is now and not become a full pandemic.
Currently, there is no specific antiviral treatment for the 2019-nCoV infection, and people who become infected with it typically receive supportive care to help relieve symptoms. If you or anyone you know might have encountered this virus, you should contact your healthcare provider immediately.