Coronaviruses are types of viruses that typically affect the respiratory tract of mammals including humans. They are associated with the common cold, pneumonia, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and can also affect the gut. A coronavirus is a kind of common virus that causes an infection in the nose, sinuses or upper throat.
WHAT IS A CORONAVIRUS?
Human coronaviruses (HCoV) were first identified in the 1960s in the noses of patients with the common cold. Human coronaviruses are responsible for a large proportion of common colds-1.OC43 2.229E.They get their name because of crown-like projections on their surfaces. Corona in Latin means ‘halo’ or ‘crown’. This infection in humans occurs during winters and early spring. Coronavirus antibodies do not last long and the antibodies for one strain of virus may be useless against other strains.
These were first identified in the 1960s but their actual place of origin is not known. Coronaviruses can infect both humans and animals. Most of them spread like other cold-causing viruses through the coughing and sneezing of other infected people, by touching an infected person’s hand or face or by touching surfaces like furniture or doorknobs that have been touched by infected people Most people get a coronavirus infection once in a lifetime, most likely during childhood. These are most common in U.S during fall and winters.
FACTS ON CORONAVIRUSES:-
- There is no cure for the common cold.
- A coronavirus causes both SARS and MERS.
- Coronaviruses infect many different species.
- There are 7 known human coronaviruses.
- SARS spread from China and caused infection in 37 countries killing people.
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SYMPTOMS OF CORONAVIRUS
These symptoms are similar to an upper respiratory infection like sneezing, runny nose, fatigue, coughing, sore throat, or a fever, exacerbated asthma too. It is unidentifiable from other cold-causing viruses like Rhinovirus. If this infection spreads to the lower respiratory tract (windpipe and lungs)it can cause pneumonia, especially in older people, people with heart disease, or people with a weakened immune system. Human coronaviruses cannot be cultivated in the laboratory easily, unlike the Rhinovirus, another cause of the common cold.
PRECAUTIONS TO BE TAKEN FOR CORONAVIRUS INFECTION—
There is no vaccine available for it. Its prevention is similar to that of a common cold. Some of them are—
1. Wash hands thoroughly with soap and warm water or with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Keep your hands and fingers away from your eyes, nose, and throat.
- Avoid close contact with infected people.
- Get lots of rest and avoid overexertion.
- Drink fluids mainly water.
- Take over-the-counter medicine for a sore throat and fever. Aspirin must not be given to children or teens younger than 19 instead of Ibuprofen or Acetaminophen or Naproxen should be given.
- A humidifier, steamy shower, or cool mist vaporizer can also help ease a sore throat.
- Avoidance of smoking or going into smoky areas.
The responsible virus can be diagnosed by taking a sample of respiratory fluids like mucus from the nose or blood.
TYPES OF CORONAVIRUSES
There are currently 7 recognized types of coronaviruses that can infect humans. Common types include—-
- 229E (Alpha coronavirus)
- NL63 (Alpha coronavirus)
- HKU1 (Beta coronavirus)
- OC43 (Beta coronavirus)
Some rarer, more dangerous types include—MERS-CoV which causes Middle East Respiratory Syndrome and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV), the coronavirus responsible for SARS.
There has not been a great deal of research on how a coronavirus spreads from one person to next. But it is believed that the viruses transmit using secreted fluid from the respiratory system. Coronaviruses can spread in the following ways—
- Coughing and sneezing without covering the mouth can disperse droplets in the air, spreading the virus.
- Touching or shaking hands with an infected person can spread it thus.
- Making contact with an infected surface and then touching your nose, eyes, or mouth.
- On rarer occasions, a coronavirus may spread through contact with feces.
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