Over the past few weeks, the government of China shut down all transportation to and from Wuhan, a city of 11 million people, and several other cities in order to defend against a new foe. A coronavirus has emerged from a market in China, some say from eating snake, others say from eating bats. Coronaviruses, sometimes referred to as CoV, are viruses that have evolved and can now be transmitted from animals to humans. There are around seven known coronaviruses with the newest being found in China. 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) has been deemed the culprit in the spur of recent outbreaks. Unlike the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome causing coronavirus (SARS-CoV) that ran rampant in 2003, or the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) that infected more than 25 countries in 2012, this novel (new) and deadly virus has little known about it.
In 2003 when the SARS-CoV was frontline news over 8,000 got infected around the globe with nearly 800 deaths as a result. Relatively low casualties for a disease outbreak considering that roughly 140,000 caught the flu during 2019 and over 8,000 died last year due to the flu. Other note-worthy diseases such as Zika and Ebola plagued headlines for years. Ebola has claimed the lives of over 11,000 throughout the years, while Zika causes severe birth defects and complications for expecting mothers.
MERS-CoV was one of the most recent coronaviruses to emerge from the shadows. First found in the Arabian Peninsula in 2012, it quickly spread to multiple countries within the peninsula. The cause for the coronavirus outbreak was a leap through camels to humans, either through eating or ingesting some bodily fluid containing the virus. Nearly 2,500 people became infected with MERS-CoV throughout the years with over 850 deaths occurring from the disease. MERS-CoV was more lethal than SARS-CoV with 4 out of 10 infected resulting in deaths compared to SARS-CoV 1 out of 10 results in death.
Ebola, coronaviruses and the flu have devastated families and communities throughout the years. Although these diseases are not connected, they share some similarities. Some symptoms of all the listed diseases are the same. Running nose, cough, sneezing, etc. the stereotypical flu-like symptoms. The difference when it comes to 2019-nCoV is that the disease is transmittable before you start experiencing symptoms. Ingesting bodily fluids of an infected person either through the mouth or nose will spread the infection. To avoid unnecessary contamination, it is wise to wash your hands often and cover your mouth when sneezing or coughing.
So far, 13 different countries from around the globe have confirmed reports of the infection. In the United States, the third and fourth case of 2019-nCoV has been confirmed. Seattle has reported an infection along with Chicago and two counties in California. The Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization have links for more information regarding coronaviruses and the current emergence of 2019-nCoV.