Even Your Common Cold is a Coronavirus And Other Facts to Know
Some coronaviruses cause the common cold while others originating in bats, camels and other animals have evolved into more severe illnesses such as SARS — severe acute respiratory syndrome — or MERS — Middle East respiratory syndrome and even the newly identified Wuhan coronavirus.
Scientists have identified the Wuhan coronavirus as a novel coronavirus which has previously not been seen in humans before.
The name comes from the Latin word for crowns or halos, which coronaviruses resemble under a microscope. The coronavirus family has many types that affect people.
The first cases appeared last month in Wuhan, a city in central China's Hubei province. Many of the first people infected had visited or worked at the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, which has since been closed for an investigation. Chinese health officials say they believe the illness first spread from animals to people. They now say it can spread between people.
Common symptoms include a runny nose, headache, cough and fever. Shortness of breath, chills and body aches are associated with more dangerous kinds of coronavirus, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In serious cases, the virus can cause pneumonia.
There is a test to identify the virus, but no vaccine to prevent an infection. Patients with the virus have been isolated in hospitals or homes to prevent spreading it. The symptoms are treated with pain and fever medication, and people are advised to drink plenty of liquids and rest while they recover.
Many coronaviruses can spread through coughing or sneezing, or by touching an infected person. Scientists believe the new virus can spread from person to person in close contact through the respiratory tract.
So far, the virus appears less dangerous and infectious than SARS, which also started in China in 2002-03 and killed about 800 people. However, viruses can mutate into more dangerous and contagious forms, and it's too early to say what will happen with this one.
(With inputs from AP)
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