Killer Virus? From SARS to Coronavirus (COVID-19)

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As of 09 March 2020 there have been 77 confirmed cases of the 2019 coronavirus (COVID-19) in Canada and thousands of cases reported across the globe.

What is the Corona virus (CoV)?

It is an umbrella term that covers a host of similar viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe respiratory infections like bronchitis, pneumonia, Middle-East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV), and Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS-CoV). There are different types of coronaviruses, most of which cause respiratory symptoms (e.g. common cold and pneumonia) and others may cause gastrointestinal symptoms. Coronaviruses are transmitted from animals to people. The SARS-CoV came from cats in China, and the MERS-CoV came from camels in Saudi Arabia. The animal source of the COVID-19 is still unknown.

What is the COVID-19?

First identified in China, from the Wuhan city, the COVID-19 is a type of coronavirus that mainly causes respiratory symptoms, similar to those of the common cold (e.g. coughing, sneezing, fever, and difficulty breathing).

What are the common signs of a COVID-19?

Commonly, the signs of infection are respiratory in nature, and they include fever, shortness of breath, cough, and difficulty breathing. In cases where the infection is more severe, signs may include pneumonia, kidney failure, and even death.

7 ways to protect yourself from being infected with COVID-19

1)Wash your hands regularly (minimum 20 seconds) with soap and water, or using sanitizer.
2)Cover your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing. Dispose of mask, napkin/tissue, and wash hands thoroughly.
3)Thoroughly cooking meat and eggs
4)If you’re not feeling well, stay at home
5)Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing (stay 3-6ft away from someone who is ill)
6)In healthcare settings, you should wear personal protection equipment (PPE)
7)If you have been in China in the past 14 days, you should seek medical advice

What happened; how did this Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) all get started?

In 2019, outbreak in China occurred in the city of Wuhan, where a group of individuals were identified with pneumonia. The medical surveillance system implemented since the SARS outbreak in 2003, that looks for unusual events, detected the presence of the new coronavirus. The virus spreads through the respiratory route (droplets), which affects coworkers and families of those infected. Those infected develop respiratory disease.

How do you know if you are infected with the coronavirus?

Diagnosis is made via PCR (polymerase chain reaction). A laboratory test that looks for the genetic fingerprint of the virus.

Who’s at risk and who isn’t at risk?

The PHAC (public health agency of Canada) has assessed the risk for Canadians (in Canada) in contracting COVID-19 to be low (but this can change rapidly). Risk of severe disease depends on a strong versus a weakened immune system. Those with weakened immune system may include: older people (over age 65), and people with chronic diseases (e.g. diabetes, cancer, heart, renal, or chronic lung disease).

The risk increases to individuals who are in contact with live animal market and those who care for the ill (family members and healthcare workers).

Are there any treatments for COVID-19?

Since it’s a new virus, there is no definitive treatment, but treatment for other respiratory diseases are available and used. MERS coronavirus treatment can possibly be useful in treating COVID-19. Also, no vaccines as of yet, but they are in development.

Is it a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (ie. a global concern)?

For now, it is not declared by the director general of the WHO (world health organization) that it is. But it is an emergency in China for sure.

Would receiving a package from Wuhan be a concern in contracting the disease?

No, you are not at risk at contracting the disease from receiving a package. Viruses don’t survive very long on surfaces.
Can someone get sick during incubation period?
Prior to development of symptoms of the viral infection, it is possible to spread via droplets.

By Dr. Halim Sbenati, DDS

World Health Organization
Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario
Ontario Government
Canadian Government

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