This is a virus from a group of viruses called coronavirus, some of which can infect humans, some of which only tend to infect animals. It is a virus from the same family as the SARS virus. There have been only 7 coronaviruses that infect humans, but there are hundreds in the animal world.
This particular form has recently gone from only infecting animals to now infecting humans. We don’t know yet for sure which animal is the source, but snakes, are being considered. Human to human transmission has occurred as healthcare workers caring for the ill have contracted the illness. This is why it is a potential public health threat and is being taken so seriously. We are learning more but still know very little about it at this time. So far, around six hundred have been infected and reports of 18 deaths. The majority of those who have died have been elderly or suffering from chronic illness. The 1st case has been reported in the US in a man who traveled from Wuhan in China, to Washington.
The important pieces we don’t yet know:
– How quickly does the coronavirus spread from person to person?
– How severe is the illness it creates?
– Do we have treatment or a vaccine for prevention?
These questions are being actively investigated, hoping to have these answers in the upcoming days/weeks as the situation evolves.
In the meantime, what can you do to help prevent the coronavirus or any respiratory illness?
- Wash your hands! 20 seconds with soap and water. Don’t like to count to 20? Sing happy birthday to yourself twice! If you don’t have access to soap and water, use hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your face: mouth, eyes and nose
- Avoid those who are sick. Easier said than done. If you are sick STAY home, or wear a face mask when around others.
- Cover your cough, cough into the crook of your elbow or use a tissue. A fist is not effective and using your hands can spread germs if you aren’t washing after each and every cough.
- Though there is no official recommendation from the CDC regarding masks at this point, you can wear one if you are concerned during travel. I also tend to use sanitizing wipes for my surroundings as a precaution.
Check out my segment on @khonnews and stay up to date on the latest via the CDC and WHO.
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