Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause respiratory illness ranging in severity from the common cold to severe diseases, such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV). Coronaviruses are zoonotic; they can be spread from animals to humans.
The newest strain of coronavirus is being referred to as 2019-novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) because it had not been seen in humans prior to reports made in December, 2019. The first case of 2019-novel coronavirus was first reported in Wuhan, China. Since then, cases have been reported in other countries, such as the United States. The disease appears to be transmitted from one person to another.
Signs and Symptoms of Coronavirus
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2019-novel coronavirus can cause an illness that ranges in severity from few or no symptoms to illness that leads to death. Common signs and symptoms of the infection include cough, fever, breathing difficulties, and shortness of breath. Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), pneumonia, kidney failure, and death can occur in severe cases.
What to Do If You are Sick
There are several things you need to do if you feel sick with a cough, fever, and breathing difficulties and have been to China within the past 14 days. First, seek medical attention; call your doctor or nearest emergency room before you go. Tell them about your symptoms and your recent travel history. Do not travel while you’re feeling ill, and avoid contact with other people. When you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve. Use soap and water to thoroughly wash your hands immediately after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose. If soap and water aren’t available, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Do not share dishes, such as plates, coffee mugs, drinking glasses, or utensils, towels, or bedding with infected people. These items should be washed with soap and water before anyone else uses them.
Are There Reported Coronavirus Cases on Long Island or in New York?
Though a few people have been tested for the virus, there are no confirmed cases of coronavirus on Long Island or in New York at this time.
Types of Human Coronaviruses
According to the CDC, there are seven types of human coronaviruses: SARS-coronavirus, OC43, 229E, MERS-coronavirus, NL63, HKU1, and 2019-novel coronavirus. People are commonly infected with the human coronaviruses 229E, HKU1, NL63, and OC43.
Where Do Coronaviruses Come From?
It’s believed that the human coronaviruses SARS and MERS originated in bats. It’s not yet known where 2019-novel coronavirus originated.
MERS-Coronavirus – What to Know
Middle East Respiratory Syndrome is caused by the MERS-coronavirus. According to the CDC, people affected with MERS develop respiratory symptoms similar to those seen in people infected with 2019-nCoV. Approximately three or four out of every 10 people with a MERS-coronavirus infection die.
MERS was first reported in Saudi Arabia in September 2912. Thus far, all MERS cases have been linked to residency in or travel to countries in and around the Arabian Peninsula. MERS can be spread from one person to another. Those most at risk for contracting the disease are those who have close contact with someone who has MERS, such as those living with or caring for an infected person.
Travel to countries in or around the Arabian Peninsula is not currently prohibited. If you have respiratory symptoms and have traveled to a country in or near the Arabian Peninsula within the past 14 days, seek medical treatment from your physician or emergency room. Call your physician or hospital before you arrive there. You can reduce your risk of contracting the disease by taking basic precautions, such as washing your hands thoroughly after sneezing, coughing, or blowing your nose, keeping unwashed hands away from your face, and not sharing dishes, towels, or bedding with people who are sick.
Take Precautions if Traveling
The CDC has an advisory out regarding traveling to China. The organization recommends that people should avoid all nonessential travel to the People’s Republic of China. The U.S. Department of State has issued a Level 4 Travel Advisory, requesting that people do not travel to China at this time due to 2019-nCoV). These advisories apply only to mainland China and do not apply to Macau, Hong Kong, or the island of Taiwan.
If you must travel to China, there are precautions you can take to protect yourself from respiratory illnesses like 2019-nCoV. Avoid having close contact with people who are ill, and avoid alive and dead animals, products that comes from animals, such as raw meat, and animal markets. Another precaution you can take to protect yourself is to wash your hands thoroughly and often. The CDC recommends washing your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water often, especially before eating, after using the bathroom, and after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose. If soap and water aren’t available, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with an alcohol content of at least 60 percent. Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.
If you are entering the United States and have been to China in the last 14 days, you’ll be routed to one of 11 U.S. airports where CDC officials will perform a health screening and ask you questions about your health and travel. As a precaution, those who are entering the United States from the mainland of China will be placed under a federal, state, or local quarantine.
Prevention and Treatment
There is currently no vaccine for the prevention of 2019-nCoV. The CDC asserts the best way to protect yourself from the virus is to not come into contact with it.
There are currently no antiviral medications specifically for the treatment of 2019-nCoV. Instead those who are affected with the virus receive supportive treatment to help relieve symptoms. If you believe you have been exposed to coronavirus, you should contact your doctor right away.
The CDC is conducting an ongoing investigation to learn more about 2019-novel coronavirus. The CDC often posts news and updates about 2019-nCoV as the situation is constantly evolving.