The Facts About the Novel Coronavirus

February 21st, 2013

Just a few days ago, the recently discovered novel coronavirus claimed the life of another person overseas. News of the fatality rapidly spread across the globe causing many to worry about the possibility of a new pandemic. If you would like to learn more about this new potentially deadly virus, read the facts listed below.

What is the novel coronavirus?

The novel coronavirus, also known as NCoV, is a new strain of coronaviruses, which is a large family of viruses that was first identified in the 1960s. This group includes viruses that cause the common cold as well as those that result in SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome). Coronaviruses get their name from the crown-like projects that are present on the virus’ surface.

Virus Cells Attacking the Body

Where did this coronavirus come from?

All of the 12 confirmed cases are linked to the Middle East. Five people were from Saudi Arabia, two were from Jordan, and one was from Qatar. There were also four cases in the United Kingdom.  These individuals are related to each other. The first family member to contract the coronavirus had recently traveled to Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

When was the first case of the virus reported?

The first confirmed case was reported in September of 2012 though the individual actually died from the illness in June 2012.

How many people have died after becoming infected with the coronavirus?

Six out of 12 known cases have been fatal.

How is this virus spread?

People contract the novel coronavirus when they inhale the air droplets that are produced when the infected individual sneezes, coughs, or talks. People can also contract the virus by touching a surface that is contaminated with the virus however this route is less likely.

What are the symptoms?

The confirmed cases have exhibited a fever, cough, shortness of breath, and overall breathing difficulties. It is unknown whether an infected person can experience more mild symptoms as well which would suggest the possibility that more people may be unknowingly infected.

What treatment is available?

There is no vaccine available. At this time, medical care can only help to relieve the symptoms.

How is the novel coronavirus different from SARS?

Thus far, there have only been a small number of confirmed cases indicating that this virus is not as easily spread from person to person as the virus that causes SARS. Experts believe that the novel coronavirus is not nearly as infectious.

Can infection be prevented?

The novel coronavirus can only survive for 24 hours when it is outside of the body and is easily destroyed by cleaning agents and detergents.

Are we at risk in the United States?

The CDC says that no cases have occurred in the US thus far and therefore the risk of Americans becoming infected with the virus is low. People can still travel to the Middle East but should seek medical treatment if they experience the symptoms listed above, especially if they have unexplained pneumonia or other respiratory illness that is not responding to treatment.

Though the novel coronavirus is related to SARS, experts do not currently believe that we should be concerned about an epidemic similar to the 2003 SARS outbreak in which the illness spread to more than two dozen countries, infecting over 8000 and causing 774 deaths. It is however a good idea to always practice good hygiene, especially if you will be traveling to the Middle East while the virus is still present.



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