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A deadly new strain of coronavirus has been identified that is similar to the SARS virus. Coronaviruses are a wide spectrum grouping of viruses that are known to cause illness in animals and humans.
The source of this new deadly virus is unknown but has already claimed up to nine lives. Coronaviruses are known to affect a wide range of animals and can become life threatening when they become transmissible between animals-to-humans.
Further mutation of the virus occurs when there is human-to-human spread. Reports indicate that there is possible human-to-human spread but it is uncertain if the affected family members were infected by the same source.
Initial reports indicate that the novel coronavirus does not appear to transmit easily between people while the distant relative SARS virus was much more transmissible.
Symptoms of novel coronavirus
Novel coronavirus is known to create severe respiratory illness with fever, cough, shortness of breath and other breathing difficulties according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
The new virus is known to cause severe pneumonia, kidney failure and death in certain cases. However limited clinical knowledge is present at the immediate time.
The WHO is investigating this unknown virus to prevent further outbreaks and loss of life. The speed of transmission is an important criterion in determining how serious a threat the virus poses.
At the current time there is no definitive animal culprits known. One source has indicated that bats may be a possible origin of the virus but that is still unknown. Further investigation is needed to determine if other animals may be contributing to the problem or not.
No known treatment
WHO indicates that there is no specific treatment for the new virus until further evaluation is completed. However, many of the associated symptoms such as fever, headache, body aches, coughing and sneezing can be treated effectively.
The best-known protection includes avoiding kissing, shaking hands and other close personal contact with possible infected individuals. It is advised to improve personal hygiene by covering coughs and sneezes, washing hands thoroughly and frequently and avoiding shared utensils and cups.
Novel coronavirus is suspected to be fairly fragile and not very easily transmissible. If the virus does survive they can be killed with detergents, cleaning agents and even soap and water.
Other strains of coronaviruses are known to spread via inhaled airborne droplets and direct contact with one’s eyes, nose or mouth. It is important to wash one’s hands regularly prior to inserting or removing contact lens as an example.
To date there have been no specific recommendations or travel restrictions until the course of the virus is understood in greater detail. The WHO posts frequent updates on their website.
To minimize your risk it is advised to strengthen one’s immune system. The known immune system boosters include eating a healthy diet, engaging in stress reduction techniques and engaging in regular physical activity.
The best and only cure for novel coronavirus is ensuring one’s body can fend off the invading virus to the best of its ability. It is advised to visit your healthcare provider immediately if you if you suspect that you or a friend or family member is infected. Immediate care can significantly improve the chances of a favorable outcome.
Dr. Cory Couillard is an international healthcare speaker and columnist for numerous newspapers, magazines, websites and publications throughout the world. He works in collaboration with the World Health Organization's goals of disease prevention and global healthcare education. Views do not necessarily reflect endorsement.
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