Coronavirus- The Cause Of Major Respiratory Diseases
Medikoe Health Expert
Koramangala, bengaluru, karnataka, india, Bengaluru Feb 12, 2017
Coronaviruses- These are a strain of viruses that usually affect the respiratory tracts in a lot of mammals including humans. People with the common cold, pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), or Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), are usually found to have the coronavirus in their system. Sometimes it also affects the gut too.
So far there are six known strains of coronaviruses that affect humans. It was the reason behind the spread of SARS to around 37 countries, beginning with China.
These viruses were first discovered in the 1960s, in patients with common cold. They were found in the nose. There have been six known types of coronavirus that affect humans.
These viruses have crown-like projections on their surfaces, hence known as the coronavirus as corona means halo or crown in Latin.
Coronaviruses usually attack in winter. And since there are many strains of the virus, having been infected doesn’t make you immune to future infections, usually after the next four months. Moreover, coronavirus antibodies last in the body for up to four months.
Types of Human Coronavirus
There are different types of human coronavirus; it varies based on the type of disease caused or its severity.
As of now, there have been six different types that have been discovered. These are-
Human Coronavirus 229E- Belonging to the genus Alphacoronavirus, this strain is usually found in patients with respiratory symptoms such as common cold, pneumonia or bronchiolitis. This virus, when detected, is mostly found with other respiratory viruses. Most of the time it is detected along with Human respiratory syncytial virus (HRSV).
Human Coronavirus NL63 or HCoV-NL63- This strain also belongs to the genus Alphacorona virus. Initially detected in young children with severe lower respiratory tract infections. This strain is usually responsible for severe respiratory issues, it can also be seen in mild respiratory infections. Since the strain is usually found in comorbid respiratory disorders, it is hard to point ut the symptoms related to this specific strain. The most common symptoms associated with virus are fever, cough, rhinitis, sore throat, hoarseness, bronchitis, bronchiolitis, pneumonia, and croup.
Human coronavirus OC43- This strain belongs to the genus Betacoronavirus, and is one of the most common causes of the common cold. The virus can also cause severe lower respiratory tract infections, including pneumonia in babies, the elderly, people with weak immune systems.
Human coronavirus HKU1- This strain also belongs to the genus Betacoronavirus, and is the most common cause of respiratory tract disease including severe respiratory tract illness. This virus is mostly found in children below 5 years old, and in very few cases among the adults.
MERS- Then there is the MERS-CoV, which causes Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS),
SARS- severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS-CoV), the coronavirus responsible for SARS.
Transmission of Human Coronavirus
The virus is a contagious one and can be transmitted through cough droplets; if the ib=nfected person doesn’t cover his mouth while coughing.
Besides that research is still being conducted on the various modes of transmission.
But the most common theory is that it is transmitted through respiratory fluids since that is where it is usually found.
It spreads between people if,
The infected person doesn’t cover his face while sneezing or coughing as it disperses the droplets in the air
Physical contact, such as shaking hands, with the person who is infected and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
One comes in contact with faeces. This is a rare occurrence.
The disease spreads more in winter than in summer. Mostly contracted by people who are young, and infection can occur more than once in the lifetime.
The coronavirus has a mutating ability, hence making it more contagious.
Symptoms of Coronavirus Infection
Since the coronavirus infects the respiratory tract, a person with the infection shows mild symptoms related to a cold or the flu.
Other symptoms include sneezing, tiredness, cough, sore throat, runny nose, aggravated asthma, and sometimes fever.
Diagnosis of Coronavirus Infection
It is pretty simple to diagnose a person infected with the coronavirus. Since the virus is usually present in the respiratory tract, an analysis of the respiratory fluids like mucus, or blood analysis can help detect it in the body.
Prevention of Coronavirus Infection
The best way to prevent transmission is by avoiding physical contact with an infected person.
If you’re infected, the wise thing would be to stay indoors and take necessary rest. See to that you cover your nose and mouth while coughing and sneezing to avoid the dispersion of droplets. And dispose of the tissue used while sneezing or coughing.
While visiting an infected person, care must be taken to avoid physical contact. Also, keep the nose and mouth covered by wearing a mask or using handkerchiefs.
Treatments of Coronavirus Infection
It is hard to cultivate the virus in the lab to study its effects on public health or figure out a way to treat it. SO far the health organisations haven’t been able to devise proper treatments for a coronavirus infection.
So the only thing one can do is take very good care of themselves or take some over-the-counter (OTC) medication.
Few of the ways you can take care of yourself is by-
Taking proper rest and not overexerting yourself
Not being in areas that have a lot of dust and smoke,
SARS(Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome)
Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)
It is one of the life-threatening contagious disease spread caused by SARS-CoV coronavirus. This virus originated in China and spread to 37 different countries and has resulted in the deaths of many people.
The SARS-CoV can affect both the upper and lower respiratory tracts, and in some cases cause gastroenteritis.
Symptoms include fever, dry cough, diarrhoea, difficulty in breathing, body pains, and later on pneumonia. If SARS is in its advanced stages, it may cause lung, liver or heart failure.
There was a SARS epidemic in 2002 that resulted in the death of 774 people, mostly aged above 65 years old. The epidemic was brought under control in 2003.
Treatment: Sars doesn’t have any cure as of now. Research is being made to figure out a vaccine for the disease. A person with SARS is usually kept in quarantine as it is very contagious. All forms of treatment re to ease the discomfort of the person such as,
Providing breathing assistance,
Treating the patient with antibiotics for the pneumonia
Steroid treatment to reduce lung inflammation
All of these treatments aren’t scientifically proven to be effective, but it does ease the discomfort of the patient.
Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS)
Discovered in 2012, this is another fatal disease spread by the coronavirus; the MERS-CoV coronavirus. This disease originated in Saudi Arabia in the middle east, in 2012, hence the name. Like the SARS even this disease spread to different countries, including the US.
Common symptoms of MERS include cough, fever and breathlessness.
Treatment: Like SARS, there hasn’t been any cure found for MERS. A person with the disease is treated by giving them fluids, pain killers, oxygen therapy and allowing them proper rest.
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