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The Coronavirus Outbreak: Understand the implications!

It is known that the Coronavirus is the US, but do you really know about this virus?

Okay, let us see all about this! Maybe I can help you, as a biologist. 

Coronaviruses are a group of simple RNA genome viruses that belong to the Coronaviridae family. They are known by the scientific community since the mid-1960s. The other strains are a common cause of mild to moderate short-term respiratory infections, but there is one strain that is responsible to cause the form of severe atypical pneumonia known as SARS. Do you know what is SARS? No? Wait for it!

SARS, discovered in 2002 because of an outbreak in China, is the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. Between 2002 and 2003 it was quickly spread to more than twelve countries, including North America causing what was called a global epidemic. It killed nearly 800 people and about 8,000 were infected. 

I will talk about just a little bit about the other strains for you to understand something I am about to say: So, the first one was the HCoV-229E, discovered in 1960 it came from alpacas; the second strain, SARS-CoV (Remember? We just talked about this one!), was discovered in 2002 from the bats; in 2004 was known the third one, HCoV-OC43 from the cattle, in the same year a second strain from the bats were discovered, totalizing four strains, it was the HCoV-NL63. In 2005 from bats again we had another virus strain (HCoV-HKU1) and, finally, the last one before the outbreak we are living now was the MERS-CoV, which came from camels. The one we are facing now is the 2019-nCoV and it is being studied if it came from the snacks or bats.

But what all the coronavirus strains have in common?

As far as we know they can be spread by sneezing, coughing, close contact (all these possibilities including an infected person) or they are evenly spread through objects carrying the virus.

So, how can I know if I am infected or not?

Well, the common symptoms are fever (that in severe cases are around 100.4ºF or higher), general body aches, diarrhea, dry cough during from 2 to 7 days, mild breathing difficulties from the beginning of what seems to be a flu, gastrointestinal issues, and in severe cases pneumonia in both lungs and the last stage kidney failure.

Please, take care of yourself and your family but do not panic! Scientists are studying the virus and they saw that at least 70% of the genetic sequence from 2019-nCoV strain is similar to the SARS-CoV sequence. The new virus does not seem to be so severe as SARS. We do not have a vaccine or a specific treatment yet, the only thing that can be done for now is to treat the symptoms which means to treat the consequence, not the cause. Although scientists are studying hard to find the vaccine as fast as possible.

The WHO (World Health Organization) recommends people to wash hands regularly, cover the nose and the mouth when coughing or sneezing and when presenting the symptoms avoid contact with people. The opposite is recommended too: if you see someone that seems to present the symptoms, avoid contact.

In case you are the one with the symptoms: rest, drink liquids (mainly water) and go to see a doctor! The WHO has already declared, on 30th January from 2020 an International Public Health Emergency which means that the entire world is collaborating to combat the illness.



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The Coronavirus Outbreak: Understand the implications!

by Jennifer Rocha time to read: 2 min