Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that was discovered in the 1960s but whose origin is still unknown. Its different types cause different illnesses, 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 point in their lives, usually during childhood. Although they are more frequent in autumn or winter, they can be purchased at any time of the year.
The coronavirus owes its name to the appearance it presents, since it is very similar to a crown or halo. It is a type of virus present in both humans and animals.
Three major epidemic outbreaks caused by coronaviruses have been described in recent years:
SARS-CoV: Acute and severe respiratory syndrome (SARS, also known as SARS and SARS) began in November 2002 in China, affected more than 8,000 people in 37 countries, and caused more than 700 deaths. SARS-Cov mortality has been estimated at approximately 10%.
MERS-CoV: The coronavirus causing Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) was first detected in 2012 in Saudi Arabia. As of October 2019, more than 2,400 cases of infection have been reported in different countries, with more than 800 deaths. The case fatality is therefore 35%.
COVID-19: The first cases of a new coronavirus will be reported in late December 2019 in the city of Wuhan, China. Since then the drip of new infected by the SARS-CoV-2 virus (called 2019nCoV), which causes COVID-19, has been continuous and its transmission from person to person has accelerated. Wuhan's reported cases of pneumonia already outnumber those of the SARS epidemic, but the case fatality rate is lower.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the pandemic situation. People are infected in most countries and health professionals insist on the need to follow preventive measures and avoid social alarm.
In Spain and other countries the state of alarm has been decreed and the health authorities insist on the need to stay home to contain the transmission.
Until now, coronaviruses have been limited to humans. The origin of these viruses is unknown, but certain animals, such as bats, are known to act as reservoirs.
As in other viruses that cause pneumonia, when they are transmitted in humans, the infection usually occurs through the respiratory route, through the respiratory droplets that people produce when they cough, sneeze, or speak.
Everything seems to indicate that the new coronavirus, COVID-19, 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 virus transmission and the exact route (s) of transmission are unknown.
Originally, the MERS-CoV coronavirus is a zoonotic virus that is transmitted from animals to people. 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.
The SARS coronavirus is believed to have originated from bats, subsequently leaping to some other small mammal species, such as the civet, and lastly to humans.
In general, the main symptoms of coronavirus infections can be as follows. It will depend on the type of coronavirus and the severity of the infection:
Difficulty breathing (dyspnea).
Chills and general discomfort.
Runny nose and runny nose.
The clinical spectrum of this type of infection varies from the absence of symptoms to mild or acute respiratory symptoms. This typology usually presents with cough, fever and respiratory difficulties. Pneumonia is common, and gastrointestinal symptoms, especially diarrhea, may also occur in MERS.
As with the influenza virus, the most severe symptoms (and the highest mortality) are registered both in older people and in those individuals with immunosuppression or with chronic diseases such as diabetes, some types of cancer or chronic lung disease. In the most severe cases they can cause respiratory failure.
In the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been found that around 80% of infected people have mild symptoms.
To date, no specific vaccine or treatment is available to combat coronavirus infection.
Maintaining basic hygiene is the most effective way to avoid contracting this virus in places where there is a greater risk of transmission, mainly in areas where cases have been reported. It is advisable to wash your hands frequently and avoid contact with people who are already infected, especially protecting your eyes, nose and mouth. People infected (or who think they may be) are advised to wear face masks and to use handkerchiefs to cover their nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing.
People infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 should be quarantined from the time the disease is diagnosed until 15 days after discharge. This is recommended by the WHO because it has been observed that, even if they are already recovered, they can still transmit the infection.
The healthy general population does not need to wear masks, as they help prevent the transmission of the virus if they are worn by people who are sick. The Ministry of Health warns that an inappropriate use of masks can contribute to shortages in those situations for which they are indicated.
Preventive measures should be followed especially by those with diabetes, kidney failure, chronic lung disease or immunosuppression, as they are at increased risk of serious disease in case of coronavirus infection.
In human coronaviruses, the severity can vary substantially from one type to another:
This variant of coronavirus corresponds to types 229E and OC43, which cause the common symptoms of a cold, although in more severe cases they can also cause pneumonia in the elderly or in neonates.
Coronavirus types 229E and OC43 cause the common symptoms of a cold.
Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)
It is a serious form of pneumonia. It causes respiratory distress and fever higher than 38 degrees. The 2002 outbreak spread worldwide, although its frequency has always been higher in East Asia.
Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS-CoV)
It causes serious respiratory problems, in addition to fever, cough and difficulty breathing, although at first it may be asymptomatic. In the most severe cases, expectoration of blood, 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.
The new coronavirus detected in late 2019, causing COVID-19, in China shows a genetic sequence that matches that of SARS by 80%. However, at first it seems less virulent and with a lower case fatality rate. On the other hand, its transmission has been much higher, it has already caused several thousand more cases than SARS and, as a consequence, the number of deaths is also much higher.
To determine if a patient's discomfort comes from a simple cold or coronavirus, doctors can perform a nose and throat culture, or even a blood test.
In cases of suspected coronavirus, a chest tomography is usually performed to determine the symptoms of pneumonia, as well as other blood clotting tests, a biochemical test, and a blood count. Antibody testing and isolation of the SARS virus are also performed.
Likewise, in order to contain the transmission, an evaluation is made to those people who present the symptoms and who may be prone to contract the virus.
The control of the temperature (with thermal cameras and digital thermometers) of people arriving at an airport from affected areas has been one of the measures that have been put in place to detect possible cases of COVID-19, as did with the previous shoots. Questionnaires are also conducted for travelers; in case of suspicion, they undergo evaluation and, where appropriate, they are transferred to health centers.
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 by washing your hands frequently, resting and drinking plenty of fluids, the symptoms will disappear after a few days. Pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can also be taken to relieve sore throats or fever.
In cases of SARS coronavirus, MERS CoV and COVID-19, hospital admission is usually convenient in severe cases. In the cases that the doctors consider it necessary, antivirals, high doses of steroids are administered to reduce the pulmonary inflammation and a respiratory support with oxygen; Occasionally it may require antibiotics, but only in the event of supervening bacterial infections, that is, superinfection.
In summary, these types of respiratory infections are treated with antivirals (at the discretion of the healthcare professional) 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:
Cold coronaviruses have very high recovery rates and practically all those affected manage to overcome the virus within a few days e also exceeded in most cases, although between 9 and 12 percent of cases cause the death of the patient. Young patients have a longer life expectancy, as they tend to have milder symptoms.
The survival rate of MERS is lower, reaching around 36 percent in mortality, as specified by the World Health Organization.
It is still early to determine the case fatality rate of the COVID-19 virus, but it seems lower than the previous ones. However, since transmission of the virus is much higher than in previous epidemics, the number of deaths is also much higher. Advanced age and chronic pathologies (hypertension, coronary heart disease, respiratory diseases, cancer, diabetes) are the main risk factors associated with increased severity and fatality of SAR-CoV-2 infection.
Currently, there is no vaccine to prevent 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
The best way to prevent the disease is to avoid exposure to this virus.
The virus is believed to spread mainly from person to person.
Among people who have close contact with each other (within about 6 feet of each other).
Through respiratory droplets that are produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
These droplets can reach the mouth or nose of people who are nearby or possibly enter the lungs when breathing.
Take steps to protect yourself
Clean your hands frequently
Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you've been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub until you feel dry.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with your unwashed hands.
Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
Keep a distance between yourself and others if COVID-19 is spreading in your community. These are especially important for people who are at increased risk of getting seriously ill.
Take steps to protect others
Stay home if you are sick
Stay home if you are sick, except to get medical care. Know what to do if you get sick.
Cover your mouth when you cough and sneeze
Cover your mouth and nose with a disposable tissue when you cough or sneeze, or use the inside of your elbow.
Throw away any used tissue you have thrown in the trash.
Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
Wear a mask if you are sick
If you are sick: You should wear a mask when you are around other people (eg, sharing a room or a vehicle) and before entering a healthcare provider's office. If you are unable to wear a mask (for example, because it makes it difficult for you to breathe), you should do everything possible to cover your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing, and caregivers should put on a mask if they enter your room. Know what to do if you get sick.
If you are NOT sick: You do not need to wear a mask unless you are caring for someone who is sick (and cannot wear one). Masks may become scarce and should be reserved for caregivers.
Clean and disinfect
Clean and disinfect surfaces that are touched frequently every day. This includes tables, door handles, light switches, counters, railings, desks, telephones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, sinks, and dishwashers.
If surfaces are dirty, clean them: use soap and water or detergent before disinfecting.
To disinfect: Most common EPA-registered household disinfectants will work. Use disinfectants that are appropriate for the surface.
Dilute the bleach with bleach you have at home.
To make a bleach solution, mix:
5 tablespoons (1/3 cup) chlorine bleach per gallon of water
4 teaspoons of bleach for a quart of water
Follow the manufacturer's instructions for proper ventilation and application. Check the expiration date to make sure the product has not expired. Never mix chlorine bleach with ammonia or other cleaning products. Expired chlorine bleach will be effective against coronaviruses if properly diluted.
Make sure the solution is at least 70% alcohol.
Other common household disinfectants, registered with the EPA.
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