Understanding The New Coronavirus and Pandemic

  • The CORONAVIRUS as any other virus is capable of causing different form of diseases in both animals and humans.
  • IN HUMANS IT CAUSES INFECTIONS OF THE RESPIRATORY SYSTEM AND THESE DISEASES RANGE FROM THE COMMON COLD WHICH IS THE LEAST COMPLICATED TO MORE SEVERE DISEASES SUCH AS THE ACUTE SEVERE RESPIRATORY SYNDROME (SARS CoV) AND THE MIDDLE EAST RESPIRATORY SYNDROME (MERS).
  • On present day the name coronavirus is one known worldwide because of the PANDEMIC in which we are all facing. This is caused by a new strain of the coronavirus (SAR CoV2) which is responsible for the disease called COVID-19.

WHAT IS CORONAVIRUS?

Coronavirus (CoV) refers to a family of virus that is responsible for diseases such as the common cold to more severe respiratory tract disease. In the past two decades, coronavirus has emerged as a threat to mankind resulting in an epidemic and a pandemic in the early 2000’s, 2012 and 2020 respectively.

They are a group of virus capable of causing infectious diseases in both animals and humans which so far have proven to be lethal to the human race.

Studies have shown that CoVs originates from animals which for a long time has been roaming just within the animal species. But recent human behaviours and activities that includes eating these animals has helped facilitate the spread of these diseases to the human race.

STRUCTURE OF THE CORONAVIRUS

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The coronavirus has at least a 3 wall protein barrier which protects its nuclei (RNA). They are from a family of virus called Coronaviridae in the order Nidovirales. Its name is in the Spanish language given in honor of its form which is shaped as a crown (Crown in Spanish is called CORONA).

There are four subgroups of CoV which has been known to cause infectious disease. These groups are:

  1. Alpha Coronavirus.
  2. Beta Coronavirus.
  3. Gamma Coronavirus.
  4. Delta Coronavirus.

Advanced studies have shown that up to this day only alpha and beta subgroups of the coronavirus have been able to cause infectious diseases in mammals (humans). Subgroups gamma and delta infects only avian species.

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The two well known coronavirus by medical professionals before now are the MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV or SARS-CoV- 1, they have both emerged in an epidemic in the last two decades.

  • SARS-CoV: The severe acute respiratory syndrome was responsible for an epidemic in china in the year 2002. This strain of coronavirus was transmitted form Civet to humans.
  • MERS-CoV: Said to have been transmitted from Camels to humans. This was responsible for the 2012, Saudi Arabia Epidemic and the disease is named, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome.

The COVID-19 Pandemic

A Pandemic refers to the widespread of an infectious disease over different countries and continents at a particular time, just as it is right now with the current outbreak of the new  COVID- 19, or Coronavirus Disease 2019 (This name was established by the World Health Organization on the 11th of february 2020). it is also called Coronavirus (SAR-CoV- 2).

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CAUSES AND TRANSMISSION

This disease started in China in a small town called Wuhan, in December 2019. There is no actual fact that states how it was transmitted from animals to humans but the
most believed story was that it was transmitted when the citizens decided to eat Bats.

Ever since then, propagation of this disease has been possible through person to person contact, which is made possible through the mucous membrane (a barrier which facilitates the infection).

Here are the known ways of transmission of SARS-CoV- 2:

  • Droplet: from the mouth while talking, coughing or sneezing are capable of travelling up to 4 meters of distance and infect the nearest person.
  • Aerosol: Nosocomial infection, transmission through an endotracheal tube.
  • Contacts: through direct contact with an infected patient or indirect contact through a contaminated surface. This virus is capable of living up to 8 hours outside the human
    body in our environment.

But how does the virus actually infect a person? These particles that could be less than 6 micrometer can travel and rest on the skin of an uninfected person and he or she will not get infected. But in a case where they land on the mucous membrane of the mouth, nose and in the eyes, a person can become infected.

THE SYMPTOMS

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Studies have shown that the incubation period is from 5 to 9 days, and in some cases it can last till 14 days. In majority of cases observed, approximately 94% of all COVID- 19 are mild illness with only less than 6% showing the severe form of this disease. Transmission to kids are rare but if presented it has proven to be deadly.

Frequent symptoms observed in patients includes:

  • Dry cough
  • Fever above 38
  • Running Nose and
  • Difficulty breathing (dyspnea)
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Painful swallowing
  • Gastrointestinal upset.

The Severe Form of COVID-19

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While very high death tolls were seen in countries like Spain, Italy, and the United State, some countries such as China, where this all started, and New Zealand seems to have won the battle against this highly contagious diseases by taking appropriate measures at its earliest stage.

Infected patients who are prone to having the severe or complicated form of COVID- 19 can be categorise in the following group;

  1. Patients who are above 60 years of age
  2. Breastfeeding mothers
  3. Patients with the following pre-existing medical conditions:
    ● Respiratory Disease; such as Asthma
    ● Blood disease
    ● Heart disease
    ● Obesity
    ● High Blood Pressure
    ● Diabetes type 1 and 2
    ● kidney Disease
    ● Also pregnant women and children below 2 years of age are at a greater risk.

A vast number of patients are sent home to continue treatment because there is no need for hospitalization. In such situation, it is recommended and important to observe the patient from a distance for any improvement health wise, or if the Patient shows symptoms of Acute Severe Respiratory Syndrome which are;

  • Dehydration
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Low blood pressure (hypotension)
  • Blood oxygen level below 90%, this can be check with the help of a
    device called the oxymeeter.

If you come across anyone with the above symptoms please be advised to
call the nearest hospital. It is not recommended that you take the patient to
the hospital by yourself because it has to be done adequately to avoid spread
of the infection.

DIAGNOSIS AND MANAGEMENT

If a person has the above symptoms, a test to confirm the diagnosis of COVID-19 is available, called PCR, which is done by Medical Practitioners. There is no known cure or vaccine for this disease so the management has been symptomatic. This means that medical practitioners only give drugs to combat the given symptoms presented in patients.

It is advice to avoid self medication and report to the nearest health institution if you present any of the above mentioned symptoms. Medications used by doctors may include the following:

  • Painkillers: The use of Paracetamol is highly recommended to treat general discomfort and it is advice to avoid other painkillers such as ibuprofen, diclofenac etc. as studies have shown that due to where they act in the human system they can cause complications.
  • Antihistamine: Are used to control flu-like symptoms such as running nose.
  • Antiviral drugs: Some have proven to be effective in the fight of this highly contagious disease.
  • Bronchodilators: Used to prevent and improve any breathing difficulties.
  • Antibiotics: To prevent nosocomial bacterial infections cause the human immune system have shown to be defenseless or weak against bacterials due to the presence of COVID- 19 and multidrug use.

Other classes of drugs used include, Antiplatelet drug and Antithrombotic drugs which are used to prevent the formation of blood clots. Doctors and Scientist have come to see that formation of blood clots is one of the principal cause of death.

PREVENTION

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The most effective measure against COVID- 19 during this pandemic is to STAY INDOORS. This can be quite difficult for many people, but it is by all means necessary to keep you and your family safe. In addition to staying at home, the following measures should also be observed to protect oneself from the virus:

  • Wash hands often with soap and water. This helps to break the protein barrier of the virus thereby leaving it inactive.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth because the virus is transmitted through the mucous membrane in these regions.
  • Maintain a safe distance from anyone, especially those with symptoms such as coughing and sneezing.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a bent elbow when you cough or sneeze.
  • If you have fever, dry cough and difficulty breathing, seek a medical assistant by calling the medical doctor or any number provided by the authority in your state during this period of great crisis.

 

 

References

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