Everything You Should Know About Coronavirus

ymptoms and how to know if you're at risk.

Everything You Should Know About Coronavirus

By Ashley Abramson, Allure

UPDATED February 10, 2020: Scientists are continuing to research the Wuhan coronavirus to determine how severe it is and how quickly it spreads. As of this week, the new coronavirus has already killed more people than SARS, another type of coronavirus that caused a worldwide epidemic in 2002 and 2003.

The death toll in China is currently more than 900 people — including more than 100 individuals in a single day — with the case of confirmed infections up to more than 40,000. The SARS epidemic also began in China, and it killed 774 people around the world.

So far, officials only know of two deaths outside of mainland China, one in Hong Kong and another in the Philippines. The first American citizen died from coronavirus while in Wuhan, where the outbreak started, over the weekend.

While the number of coronavirus infections appears to have stabilized, the director general of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, says it’s difficult to make predictions about outbreaks like the Wuhan coronavirus. “We have to understand it with caution because it can show stability for a few days and then they can shoot up,” he told the New York Times. “I’ve said it many times: It’s slow now, but it may accelerate.”

After an outbreak in Wuhan, China, the first American has been diagnosed with the Wuhan coronavirus, a respiratory infection that has killed at least six people so far in Asia. The American man started experiencing respiratory symptoms after a trip to China near where the outbreak began. He was hospitalized with pneumonia last week, and his coronavirus diagnosis was confirmed this week.

To help prevent an outbreak in the States, a number of health-care officials are taking precautions by screening patients who exhibit a fever or respiratory symptoms and asking whether they’ve recently traveled to China or had contact with anyone who has. Since coronavirus symptoms can look a lot like flu and cold symptoms, it’s important to understand the difference — and to know when to talk to your medical provider. We spoke to three experts to learn more.

What is coronavirus?

According to Matthew Frieman, an associate professor of microbiology and immunology at the University of Maryland, coronaviruses are a family of viruses that usually cause the common cold. Some coronaviruses, like the one that causes SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome), can produce more concerning, potentially life-threatening symptoms. The Wuhan coronavirus is one strain of the virus that could potentially lead to more severe respiratory issues.

At this point, says Amesh Adalja, an infectious-disease expert at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, it’s unclear how severe the virus will be — if it will be more like SARS, which has a 10 percent mortality rate, or more like the other, milder viruses. "It’s very early in this outbreak, and it’s hard to know the full spectrum of illnesses until we get a handle on all the cases that are occurring," he says.

What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

So far, Frieman says, it has been reported that this new coronavirus causes a spectrum of respiratory symptoms, from mild cold-like symptoms to severe pneumonia and even death in several patients so far. Specifically, according to Adalja, people might experience fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, or a runny nose.

As with other viruses, experts think coronavirus is spread through droplets from coughs and sneezes. "It seems to be able to spread from one person to another fairly well," Frieman says.

How is coronavirus diagnosed?

Neha Nanda, the medical director of infection prevention and antimicrobial stewardship at Keck Medicine of USC, says it’s very difficult to differentiate coronavirus symptoms from cold or flu symptoms because they’re exactly the same. "The only thing that’s helpful is someone’s travel history. If someone has traveled to Wuhan after December 1 and developed symptoms two weeks later, then that person is at high risk and should call their doctor," she says.

If a hospital or clinic suspects an individual may have coronavirus, there is a test that can be done by the CDC, which provides guidance on who should be tested.

Why are some viruses more dangerous than others?

At the height of cold and influenza season, it’s hard to understand why certain viruses are riskier than others. Nanda says typically, the way a person’s symptoms manifest depends on how much "ammunition" a virus has, and on their own immunity. "Someone who is immunosuppressed, their defense mechanisms are not so robust — that person is more susceptible," she says. "Some viruses can also mutate quickly, so someone’s antibodies don’t recognize the new form, giving the virus an advantage."

How can I protect myself against coronavirus?

According to the CDC, older adults and people with underlying health conditions may be at increased risk for the virus. To avoid exposure, experts recommend that travelers to the region of Wuhan, China, avoid contact with sick people, living or dead animals, and any animal markets.

Frieman says other than taking precautions with travel, hygiene is the best route for prevention. "Wash your hands often, stay away from other people when they cough and sneeze," he says, "and have some chicken soup ready should you get a cold." (Read our coverage on surgical masks here.)

What should I know about the coronavirus quarantines?

As the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan spreads, Americans who have recently traveled there are being transported home on evacuation flights. The U.S. government is putting some of these travelers in quarantine on military bases to prevent the potential spread of the virus.

In general, quarantines are used to keep an already-sick person from spreading to others. “Quarantine means limiting the movement of people who are contagious to others. It involves separating sick people with the contagious disease from healthy people,” says Nanda. “It can be effective in limiting further spread.”

In this case, the quarantines are being used to keep travelers from Wuhan out of the general public in case they are carrying the virus. Nanda says how long these individuals are held in quarantine depends on how long the incubation period is of the bacteria or virus doctors want to contain — essentially, how long experts think it would take for a potentially infected person to show symptoms.

According to the CDC’s most recent telebriefing, travelers will be held for a 14-day quarantine, which begins immediately when they depart from Wuhan. Medical care will be readily available if any coronavirus cases emerge during that period. If the travelers are healthy and their immediate families are healthy after the incubation period, they’ll be allowed to return home.

See more at: Allure
Everything You Should Know About Coronavirus



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Everything You Should Know About Coronavirus
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