Note: this is a quick story, so stay tuned by checking the sources in this article. From Sunday, media reports now say 56 dead, more than 2,000 cases.
Sunday the third confirmed case of the new corona virus was announced in Orange County, California. The patient had traveled from Wuhan, China, just like the previous two confirmed cases in Chicago and the state of Washington. (The name, corona, was given because the virus, when viewed under a microscope, resembles a corona or halo. A new corona virus is one that has not yet been found in humans.) Two more cases, in Maricopa County AZ and Los Angeles County, were also announced late Sunday.
Each had traveled to Wuhan, China where the virus originated; it had to break out at the end of December and has been going on ever since. Many of the fatalities were older adults, with the median age of fatalities 49.
From Friday, January 24, the CDC reported 63 suspected cases from 22 states being investigated in the US. Cases have also been reported in France, Japan, South Korea, Nepal, Vietnam, Singapore and Thailand according to the World Health Organization. In the US, screening of passengers from China takes place at five airports: Atlanta (ATL), Chicago (ORD), Los Angeles, (LAX) New York City (JFK) and San Francisco (SFO).
Although public health officials say the risk for US citizens is low, here is what you need to know and do to protect yourself:
What is the new coronavirus (201
A coronavirus is from a large family of viruses, the CDC says. Some, such as colds, cause respiratory diseases in people; others spread among camels, cats, bats or other animals. Sometimes animal corona viruses can evolve, jump from animals to humans, and then spread between humans. This was the case with the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which originated in Asia in 2003 and led to a worldwide outbreak until 2004. That was also the case with the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012 and then spreading to other countries, including the US
In those diseases, when the transfer of person to person took place, experts believe that this happened through breathing drops of coughing or sneezing. However, the situation with regard to the 2019-nCoV is not yet fully understood. Early on patients had a link with a large fish and animal market, the CDC says, so this virus may have originated in animals.
Symptoms include fever, cough, and respiratory problems. However, some people have had a mild illness and do not stay in hospital for long. For others it has proved fatal. The symptoms appear only 2 days after exposure to as much as 14 days later, the CDC says. However, the most recent reports indicate that the virus can be spread while the victim is asymptomatic.
How concerned should people be in the US?
According to the CDC, confirmation about limited person-to-person spread in Asia raises the level of concern, "but CDC continues to believe that the risk of 2019-nCoV for the general American public remains low at this time."
And what about the risk for older adults? In general, as we age, our immune system does not work so well. However, it's not so much about age as about general health, says Aaron Glatt, MD, specialist in infectious diseases at Mt. Sinai South Nassau, New York. "I don't think a healthy 65-year-old is more at risk than a healthy 55-year-old," he says. However, any adult with underlying conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes or other problems, will probably do worse if they are infected, he says. "It's not the age alone, it's the underlying disease that can go with age."
Amira Roess, PhD, MPH, professor of global health and epidemiology at George Mason University, Fairfax, VA, believes it is important to put the risk in perspective. “I would be more concerned about [in the U.S] is influenza . I would make sure I had an updated flu shot. ”
To reduce the risk, follow these WHO suggestions, including avoiding close contact (six feet or less) with anyone with a fever or cough.
What happens when a case is detected?
There is no specific drug for this infection, so the care is supportive, such as pain and fever relief. Public health officials also contact "close contacts" of patients, such as those within six feet of the patient.
Is there hope for treatment?
Yes, according to Andrew Mesecar, PhD, head of the biochemistry department at Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, who studies the new corona virus from Wuhan and has previously studied the SARS and MERS viruses. "SARS and Wuhan are kind of twin viruses," he says. “They are not identical, but more like fraternal twins. They have many more similarities with each other than with MERS.
The genome for the Wuhan virus has been made public by Chinese researchers, he says. He studies compounds that he thinks will work against this virus, but acknowledges that these connections are far from the market.
Where to look for updates?
The number of cases has changed rapidly, but two organizations post information.
The World Health Organization publishes updates through its situation report and advice on minimizing risks.
The CDC has extensive information and updates.
Follow the distribution with this constantly updated map here.
Photo by Ani Kolleshi on Unsplash