As a new epidemic wreaks pandemonium in China and across the globe travelers, families, and health officials fear the spread of the virus as it claims the lives of dozens in the infected areas.
The coronavirus outbreak began with the pneumonia outbreak on December 31st, of 2019 and was first documented in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China. The virus infects both mammals and birds and travels causing respiratory infections. Similar to the common cold, the coronavirus can cause fever, cough, sore throat, and runny nose.
“Some coronaviruses can cause severe symptoms. The infections may turn into bronchitis and pneumonia,” Medicine Plus, states.
Similar to the flu, the coronavirus is carried through various strains and is typically characterized by its severity. Another well-known strain of the coronavirus is the Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome also known as MERS. MERS however, was responsible for 861 deaths is Saudi Arabia alone, while the coronavirus, still in its infant stage has claimed fewer lives.
“The death toll from the coronavirus outbreak has risen to 170, and a confirmed case in Tibet means it has reached every region in mainland China,” BBC news, reports. Some speculate that the number who have died from the virus is greater than what has been recorded.
The main issue medical professionals have with containing the virus is that it lies dormant in its host for 2 weeks before showing any symptoms. The result of the dormancy means that foreign travelers could be infected before they notice any discomfort. Additionally, this has allowed the virus to spread to a variety of countries, the United Kingdom and Russia confirming their first case today.
“Russia’s first two coronavirus cases were both Chinese citizens, official Russian news agencies reported, citing the government.” The Wall Street Journal reported.
Another complication of the coronavirus is that the virus travels through indirect and direct contact. While the virus is microscopic, it is larger than many other viruses which means that it cannot travel far through the air. However, the virus can spread through indirect contact such as products that are shared. Although, the virus can spread through indirect contact, health officials believe that shipped goods from China will not have the proper conditions to keep the virus alive.
““In general, because of poor survivability of these coronaviruses on surfaces, there is likely very very low risk of spread from products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient temperatures,” Director of the Center for Disease Control for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, Dr. Nancy Messonnier, said.
One of the most prevailing parts about the virus is that when compromised immune system individuals are infected what could be a steady recovery becomes a fight for life.
“Most of the people that I know that have died have compromised immune systems so they could be older, I don’t think there were too many young ones but most have other diseases or underlying causes,” Medical Interventions teacher Karen Tripp, said.
While health officials fear the spread of the infection a main concern is that there are no antivirals for the current epidemic and developing any could take years and by then, the virus could mutate. However strides in Australia are accelerating in a positive direction.
“Although it is spreading really quick people in Australia were able to grow the virus in a petri dish so now they are working on a vaccine for it,” Tripp said.