The Coronaviruses abbreviated as CoV are zoonotic (transmitted from animals to humans) and belong to the family Coronaviridae. These viruses are not new for a microbiologist but has recently gained popularity due to the epidemic in China. Corona virus is a large viral family causing common cold in humans and even severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
Symptoms include fever, cough, congestion, sneezing, runny nose and breathing difficulties. Severe symptoms include pneumonia, kidney failure and even death.
Why is it Named So?
Corona means crown. Coronavirus is a crown shaped (spherical) virus. It is an enveloped virus that has single-stranded RNA. The envelop has spike like projections.
What are Different Types of Coronaviruses?
Since coronavirus family includes different types of coronaviruses some of the major diseases causing coronaviruses include:
- SARS CoV – Originated in China, 2003
- MERS CoV – Originated in Saudi Arabia, 2012
- 2019 n-CoV – Originated in China, 2019
“On 31 December 2019, WHO was informed of cases of pneumonia of unknown etiology (unknown cause) detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province of China. A novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) was identified as the causative virus by Chinese authorities on 7 January.” – WHO
Recently, on February 11, 2020 WHO has given an official name to 2019 n-CoV (novel Coronavirus) as COVID-19. Therefore, the 2019-nCoV is now officially known as COVID-19.
What are Symptoms of Coronaviral Infection?
Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.
How to Avoid Zoonotic Viral Transmission?
Like SARS, MERS coronavirus is also transmitted from animals to humans. Thus, it becomes extremely important to follow some guidelines to avoid animal contact as a precautionary measure. WHO has some general recommendation as preventive measures to avoid Coronaviral infection. These recommendations are available on WHO website.
General Recommendations from WHO:
- Avoiding unnecessary contact with the live animals and animal products.
- Washing hands with soap and water after touching any animals and animal products.
- Avoiding touching body parts such as eyes, nose, lips, or mouth with hands, after touching wild animals.
- Avoiding touching animal wastes, spoiled animal products, products contaminated with animal wastes and fluids with bare hands.
- Strictly avoiding contact with wildlife animals such as bats, stray dogs and cats, rodents and even birds).
- Avoiding consuming raw or under-cooked animal products.
- Avoiding cross-contamination with uncooked food.
- The consumption of raw or under-cooked animal products should be avoided. Raw meat, milk or animal organs should be handled with care, to avoid cross-contamination with uncooked foods, as per good food safety practices.
What is Known about 2019-nCoV (recently named as COVID-19)?
2019-nCoV is a new coronavirus and very little is known about this virus till date. Based on the current knowledge scientists believe that this virus is similar Coronavirus that is transmitted to humans via different animal species such as camels, cats, bats and cattle.
It spreads from one person to another by physical contact or close contact (about 6 feet) (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/transmission.html). It is a highly contagious disease spread by respiratory droplets from infected person.