Human Coronaviruses: Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment & Prevention

If you read the news daily, chances are that you must have come across news of a certain infection spreading from China to different parts of the world. The infection is coronavirus infection and it has originated in the Wuhan province of China, possibly from the snakes there. If you are unaware of the details of this infection, then worry not, as this article is for you. We present an ultimate guide on human coronavirus, and also give advice on the prevention and treatment of this infection. Read on to find out everything that you need to know about human coronavirus.

All You Need to Know About Human Coronaviruses

WHAT IS A CORONAVIRUS

Coronavirus is a disease that comes from a family of viruses causing illness such as the common cold, Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). These viruses are transmitted from animals to people, and then from one infected person to another. For example, SARS is said to have been transmitted from civet cats to humans, while MERS was transmitted from a type of camel to humans.

SYMPTOMS

The symptoms of this infection are as follows:

  • Respiratory symptoms
  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty in breathing

DIAGNOSIS

For diagnosing this infection, your doctor might order laboratory tests on respiratory specimens and serum (part of your blood) to detect human coronaviruses. Laboratory testing is more likely to be used if the disease is severe in your case, or if you are suspected of having MERS.

If you are experiencing the symptoms listed above in the exact specific manner, then you should tell your doctor about any recent travel to China or other affected places, or contact with animals.

TRANSMISSION

Some viruses are capable of transmitting to humans from animals. Coronavirus happens to be one of those notorious viruses. But how does this happen in the first place? According to ongoing studies (links given in the reference section at the end of the article), snakes are likely to transmit this virus to human beings. It was also found that a change to one of the viral proteins in the human body allows the virus to recognize and bind to receptors on certain host cells. This is a critical step to entering cells, and the change in this particular protein may have helped the virus hop from snakes to humans.

The virus can also spread from person to person, but the primary mode of transmission seems to be from animal to human. In terms of how one would catch the virus, human coronaviruses are most commonly spread between an infected person and others through the following things:

  • The air (from viral particles exited from a cough or sneeze)
  • Close personal contact between people, such as touching or shaking hands.
  • An object or surface with the deadly viral particles on it, spreading from then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands.
  • Also from fecal contamination in some rare cases.

PREVENTION

Unfortunately, even though this infection is gradually turning into a global outbreak as of 2019-20, there is no vaccine to prevent the infection. However, all health organizations recommend these everyday preventive actions to help stop the spread of any respiratory viruses, such as:

  • Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Try to avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Try to avoid close contact with people who are sick, and stay home if you are sick.

Doctors are also looking into the efficiency of face masks in protection against the infection. Turns out that masks can offer protection, but there’s no substantial evidence on whether inexpensive masks can protect against flu virus particles, that are small enough to be inhaled into the lower respiratory tract or the lungs.

However, there is a silver lining here. The N95 masks are the most likely to be efficient against this infection because they filter particles smaller than one micron and provide a tight facial seal. It’s unclear if those masks would be effective against this particular virus or not, as everything is so new and the research is ongoing.

However, concerned people might want to put a mask on someone who is sick, for example when they enter hospitals or other sanitized places. But there’s no official recommendation to wear a mask while going about daily activities.

TREATMENT

There is no particular treatment for coronavirus infection. Coronavirus infection is treated in the same way as one would treat a cold. The methods for treatment are as follows:

  • Try to get plenty of rest.
  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Take the prescribed medicine for a sore throat and fever. But don’t give aspirin to children or teens younger than 19, as it may have adverse effects, Try to use ibuprofen or acetaminophen instead.
  • A humidifier or steamy shower also eases a sore and scratchy throat.

Therefore, to conclude, coronavirus is a major endemic plaguing China and gradually spreading to other countries via transmission. So far, officials are trying their best to curb the infection. But because of the nature of the infection and lack of constructive information, it is also difficult to properly diagnose and treat it. Therefore, our advice would be to not take even the mildest symptom casually, and contact your nearest doctor at the earliest notice.

References:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5850400/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6708572/

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