THE NOVEL CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19). WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW?

Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that can cause illnesses such as the common cold, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). In 2019, a new coronavirus (COVID-19) virus was identified as the cause of a disease outbreak that originated in Wuhan China.

The virus is now known as the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).

The disease it causes is called coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

In March 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

HOW DID IT ORIGINATE:

Genomic analysis of the virus revealed that it is genetically related to severe acute respiratory syndrome like (SARS-like) bat viruses.

Human consumption of bats caused the virus to modify it’s strain to be able to infect humans.

Rapid human to human transmission is confirmed.

PATHOGENESIS :

The virus enters the human body via the nasopharyngeal route, either by droplet transmission (cough or sneeze) or by touching the surfaces infected with the virus and then touching the eyes, nose or mouth.

Stage 1: After its entry, the virus attaches itself onto the nasal and oral epithelial cells. At this stage, nasal and oral swabs will indicate the presence of the virus. The patient may be asymptomatic or might have mild upper respiratory illness like symptoms

Stage 2: The virus propagates and travels lower down into the respiratory passages and infect the bronchioles and alveoli. This triggers the host immune response and produces a cytokine storm. The patient develops clinical symptoms at this moment including cough and shortness of breath. Nasal swabs still reveal the virus.

Stage 3: Progression to ACUTE RESPIRATORY DISTRESS SYNDROME (ARDS). About 20% of cases progress to this stage. These include elderly age group with co-morbidities like hypertension, diabetes, immuno compromised states. The alveolar basement membrane gets affected due to damage to the alveoli and oxygen exchange from alveoli into blood vessels is completely stopped. This causes severe hypoxia and ventilation perfusion dead space is produced. The patient has to be ventilated at this point.

CLINICAL SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS :

The incubation period of the disease (time taken from exposure to the virus till signs and symptoms are produced) is approximately 3 to 14 days.

The earliest symptoms include :

  • High grade fever
  • Dry cough
  • Sore throat
  • Difficulty in breathing

Other symptoms may include :

  • Tiredness
  • Muscle aches
  • Headache
  • Chest pain or tightness
  • Nausea vomiting
  • Diarrhea

WHEN SHOULD YOU VISIT A DOCTOR:

In these panic driven times, people often get more anxious than cautious.

Although the symptoms of Covid-19 are pretty clear cut, not all coughs mean Coronavirus.

It is important to understand and analyze your own symptoms before you make any rushed visits to your doctor.

  • If you have any of the above mentioned symptoms
  • If you have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19.
  • If you have had any recent travel history.

COMPLICATIONS:

This may occur in:

  • Elderly age group
  • Pregnant women
  • Having co morbidities like diabetes, hypertension, immunosuppresion.

Complications that arise may be:

  • Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS)
  • Multi-system failure
  • Superadded secondary bacterial infection
  • Acute kidney injury
  • Thrombo-embolism

PREVENTION FROM CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) :

Doctors and researchers are working hard to find a cure for this virus. Till date there hasn’t been any definitive drug that acts against Covid-19. Antivirals like remdesivir have been used with good results. Hydroxychloroquine also gained some limelight with its effectiveness in preventing the virus from replicating.

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PREVENTION FROM CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19)

Prevention is always better than cure. WHO has declared these methods to prevent the spread of Covid-19 :

  • Avoid large events and mass gatherings.
  • Avoid close contact (within about 6 feet, or 2 meters) with anyone who is sick or has symptoms.
  • Stay home as much as possible and keep distance between yourself and others (within about 6 feet, or 2 meters) if COVID-19 is spreading in your community, especially if you have a higher risk of serious illness. Keep in mind some people may have COVID-19 and spread it to others, even if they don’t have symptoms or don’t know they have COVID-19.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Cover your face with a cloth in public spaces, such as the grocery store, where it’s difficult to avoid close contact with others, especially if you’re in an area with ongoing community spread. Only use nonmedical cloth maskssurgical masks and N95 respirators should be reserved for health care providers.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with your elbow or a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw away the used tissue.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Avoid sharing dishes, glasses, bedding and other household items if you’re sick.
  • Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces, such as doorknobs, light switches, electronics and counters, daily.
  • Stay home from work, school and public areas if you’re sick, unless you’re going to get medical care. Avoid public transportation, taxis and ride-sharing if you’re sick.

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