What is Coronavirus and what risks are associated with the disease? How can you prevent contracting it and what symptoms should you be looking for?
The actual virus strain is named SARS-CoV-2, but it is more commonly referred to as Coronavirus Disease 2019, or COVID-19. It is part of a large family of viruses that you’ve probably already had – they’re responsible for about 20% of colds in humans. They are more common in animals though, and species that can carry variations from the family can include camels, cattle, cats, and bats. It’s not typical for a coronavirus to be transferred from animals to humans, but it is believed that is how this particular one was spread.
The virus making headlines may have come from bats, and it has been suggested the infection began after people in China ate bats in soups and other delicacy dishes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) “many of the patients at the epicenter of the outbreak in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China had some link to a large seafood and live animal market, suggesting animal-to-person spread.”
Since then, COVID-19 has spread from person to person in just about every country around the globe. The virus is called “novel,” meaning “new,” so not a lot is known about it. Cases can range from so mild one doesn’t even know they are carrying it to deathly severe. Those who are elderly or have compromised immune systems or other health problems like heart disease and diabetes are more likely to suffer the more dangerous symptoms.
How COVID-19 is Spreading
President Donald Trump has issued a national emergency and state lawmakers are taking every precaution they can think of to keep people from socially interacting for the next couple of weeks. COVID-19 is contagious, and the CDC recommends people stay at least six feet away from each other. The virus can be spread from person to person through sneezing and coughing. So far, it is unknown how long the virus will remain on surfaces, such as countertops and doorknobs, so health professionals are urging the public to be diligent in sterilizing frequently used surfaces.
The reason for self-isolation and social distancing is to prevent the spread of the virus from gaining too much of a foothold. Without a vaccine, this is the best way, according to health professionals, to keep as many people from getting sick as possible. Everyone is also encouraged to take precautions such as washing their hands for 20 seconds with soap and water. Staying away from crowds and self-isolating for about two weeks is a good idea. Be sure to cover your mouth if you sneeze or cough and wear a mask if you are sick to prevent giving it to someone else. If you are not sick, there is no need to wear a face mask, the CDC says. And finally, if you feel ill, make sure you stay at home.
The most common symptoms of the Coronavirus are fever, cough, and shortness of breath. These indicators can appear anywhere from two to 14 days after you’ve been exposed to it. Because these symptoms are common with many other illnesses, such as a cold, many people may have a mild case of COVID-19 without even realizing it. If you develop symptoms, you can contact your doctor or health care provider to see about getting tested for the virus.
Taking preventative measures will go a long way toward keeping you healthy.