The spread of the Coronavirus in China has put the rest of the world on high alert. Being the most populated country in the world, the breakout of the virus not only means the population of China is threatened but also the rest of the world as reports of Coronavirus victims have emerged in other countries.
Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that can cause various conditions, “usually of the respiratory tract, and are associated with mild pseudo-influenza conditions or, in other cases, pneumonia, which can be life-threatening,” explains Dr. José Luis Del Pozo, director of the area of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology of the University of Navarra Clinic.
What really is the Coronavirus? How many types are there? What are its signs and symptoms and how can it be prevented?
What is coronavirus?
Coronaviruses owe their name to the appearance they present since they are very similar to a crown or a halo; they are a family of viruses that were discovered in the 1960s but whose origin is still unknown. Its different types cause different diseases, from a cold to a severe respiratory syndrome (a severe form of pneumonia).
Most coronaviruses are not dangerous and can be treated effectively. In fact, most people get a coronavirus at some time in their life, usually during their childhood. Although they are more frequent in autumn or winter, they can be purchased at any time of the year.
Types of Coronavirus
In recent years, three major epidemic outbreaks caused by coronaviruses have been described, they are:
This variant of coronavirus corresponds to types 229E and OC43, which cause the common symptoms of a cold, although in the most severe cases they can also cause pneumonia in the elderly or in neonates.
Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)
It is a serious form of pneumonia. It causes respiratory distress and fever over 38 degrees. The 2002 outbreak spread throughout the world, although its frequency has always been greater in East Asia.
Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV)
It causes serious respiratory problems, in addition to fever, cough, and shortness of breath, although at first, it can be asymptomatic. In more severe cases, bloody expectoration, diarrhea, and vomiting also occur. It had its first outbreak in 2012 and since then many cases have been reported in the Middle East, although it has also reached Europe and the United States.
Wuhan coronavirus (2019nCoV)
The new coronavirus detected in late 2019 in China shows a genetic sequence that matches that of SARS by 80%. However, at first, it seems less virulent and with significantly lower mortality.
Coronaviruses can also appear in animals. Some of the most frequent are canine and feline coronaviruses.
Causes of Coronavirus
Coronaviruses are transmitted in a limited way among humans, but to date the origin of these viruses is unknown. In any case, it is known that certain animals, such as bats, act as reservoirs.
As in other viruses that cause pneumonia, when transmitted in humans, infection is usually caused by the respiratory route, through the respiratory droplets that people produce when they cough, sneeze or speak.
Everything seems to indicate that the new coronavirus, 2019nCoV, also known as Wuhan coronavirus, has an animal origin. In fact, the first cases have been related to a live animal market in the city of Wuhan in China.
As for MERS, camels are likely to be an important reservoir for this type of coronavirus and an animal source of infection in humans, as specified by the World Health Organization in its descriptive note on the disease. However, the specific role of camels in the transmission of the virus and also the exact route or routes of transmission are unknown.
In origin, the MERS-CoV coronavirus is a zoonotic virus that is transmitted from animals to people. As can be seen from the analysis of several of its genomes, it is believed that the virus originated in bats and was transmitted to camels at some point in the distant past.
It is believed that the SARS coronavirus originated in bats, subsequently jumping to some other species of small mammals, such as civet, and finally to humans.
Symptoms of Coronavirus Infections
These are the most prominent symptoms of Wuhan coronavirus:
- Secretion and runny nose.
- Sore throat and headache.
- Chills and malaise.
- Shortness of breath (breathlessness)
Treatments of Coronavirus
There is no vaccine against the human coronavirus that causes a cold, but milder cases can be overcome by following the same steps as a common cold. This does not require medical intervention and simply wash your hands frequently, rest and drink plenty of fluids, the symptoms will disappear within a few days. Painkillers such as ibuprofen or paracetamol can also be taken to relieve sore throats or fever.
In cases of coronavirus SRAS, MERS CoV and 2019nCoV, hospital admission is usually convenient. Antivirals, high doses of steroids are given to reduce pulmonary inflammation and respiratory support with oxygen; Sometimes you may need antibiotics, but only if there are supervening bacterial infections, that is, superinfection.
In summary, these types of respiratory infections are treated with antiviral and supportive measures. The treatment is usually adapted according to the severity of the patient, since there are cases in which severe pneumonia occurs, but in others the manifestations are mild.
Patient survival will depend on the type of coronavirus contracted:
- The coronavirus cold has very high rates of recovery and affected virtually all get beat the virus within a few days.
- The coronavirus SARS also exceeded in most cases, but between nine and 12 percent of cases result in the death of the patient. Young patients have more life expectancy, as they tend to have milder symptoms.
- The MERS survival rate is less high, reaching around 36 percent in mortality, as specified by the World Health Organization.
It is still early to determine the mortality rate of the Wuhan coronavirus (2019nCoV), but it seems slower than the previous ones.