With the modern virtual age we live in, it can be hard to determine what's important versus what's trending, what's real versus what's conspiracy or rumors. Being hit with so many different types of news everyday - from the good, to the bad and the ugly - we get more desensitized to serious issues because news stories, trending topics come and go, but the problems, situations or inequalities do not.
This isn't to be just gloom-and-doom to us all, by the way. Instead, we hope to paint a realistic picture for you of where we are at and possibilities for where we can go.
What Is The Coronavirus?
Generally, viruses are tiny infectious agents that take over their host cell and rewire its mechanisms to make more viruses. The coronavirus - from the family of Coronavirdae, is unique by its spiked-halo effect when looking at the viral envelope under an electron microscope. All viruses carry a strand of RNA in their envelope and cannot reproduce without attaching to a living cell and hijacking its machinery. Once inside the cell, a virus uses "its molecular conveyor belt to produce more viruses, which are then shipped out" once the cell is no longer useful and bursts; thereby releasing the new viruses to infect other cells. Scary stuff - we know. These physically-large group of viruses (approx. 125 nanometers) usually appear in animals from livestock to bats to even your household furry friend. Due to its size, the virus cannot last suspended in the air very long or travel very far and is usually picked up by direct contact; but, it can be transferred through indirect contact too. Since a virus is not technically a living thing, antibiotics do not treat this illness because antibiotics target bacterial mechanisms. Other viruses related to this currently-investigated one include the deadly SARS and MERS viruses.
When Should I Be Concerned?
Unfortunately, coronaviruses are zootonic: meaning they can transmit between human and animal living cells. In other words, we all have the ability to be infected - but that does not mean we will be infected. When its has jumped to humans, they often cause fever, respiratory illness and inflammation in the lungs. Immunocompromised people such as the elderly or those with HIV-AIDS whose immune systems may not be functioning optimally should be particularly cautious as these viruses can cause severe respiratory illness.
This newest verison of the coronavirus causes symptoms similar to mild pneumonia-like symptoms, while others have a much more severe response.
higher body temperatures (fever),
or breathing difficulties.
The report also noted several less common symptoms of the coronavirus:
irritable bowel movements,
All of the reported cases clearly showed later stage symptoms after undergoing a X-ray, so if you or a loved one you know is experiencing these symptoms reach out to your local doctor as soon as possible and allow medical providers to give a proper diagnosis.
Where Is It Now?
Although the latest verison of the coronavirus is new, the coronavirsus is not a new organism. Anyone living before the 21st century and caught a common cold likely had a coronavirus. But, the nCoV outbreak originating from Wuhan, China is one of three outbreaks within this past century that are potentially pandemic. [SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) in 2003, MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome) in 2012, and now 2019-nCoV emanating from Wuhan, China]
The official word on this outbreak from Chinese officials claim the virus orginated in a wet market in the rural areas of Wuhan, China. Unprotected contact between humans and live animals caused the initial spread to people and grew quite quickly without good sanitation programs to minimize the damage. Since its intial outbreak, the nCoV virsus has spread through China and several cases have appeared in Thailand, Singapore, Japan, United States, Tiawan, Australia, France, Canada, Vietnam and Nepal. While reports from prestigious news outlets indicate nearly 2,500 people are infected and 80 reports of cases causing death, an article released by the Daily Mail noted a nurse estimating the epidemic has spread to nearly 100,000 people in Wuhan, China. She claimed this as the Chinese government recieved accusations of limiting censorship related to their handling of the disease to 'downplay' the crisis. Meanwhile, China also has recieved a lot of praise for their efforts since constructing two make-shift hospitals with about 1,000 beds each in Wuhan for the influx of patients.
Only time will tell us that. However, we should take this possible global outbreak very seriously individually and with our loved ones. It's easy to ignore a problem when it feels like its thousands of miles away - but this medical crisis that impacted the lives of hundreds-of-thousands of people may just end up knocking on your door step if we aren't too careful...
Should You Be Worried? What Can You Do?
There really is only one way we can stop viruses and protect the health of humanity - a coordinated effort by public health programs and strategic medical measures. Several scientists are making efforts to study this strain of coronavirus to more accurately treat it rather than just the symptoms of illness. Parents, you can take a deep breath - few children have yet been reported with coronavirus symptoms. Sadly, that does not mean that no children have been infected. As we wait for global leaders, the World Health Organization and medical staff to 'control' and reduce the spread of this virus, there are several simple ways you can protect yourself and your loved ones like:
regular hand washing,
covering mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing,
thoroughly cooking meat and eggs.
Basic acts of self-care and hygiene maintenance can help prevent this outbreak from reaching a pandemic level. Stay safe and stay informed.
Our prayers go out to the family and loved ones of Kobe Bryant and his beautiful daughter, Gianna. Rest in peace.
Reimagine Your Capabilities,
The IA Team