Coronavirus is a common type of virus that causes infections in the nose, sinuses, or upper throat. Most coronaviruses are mild, but some are severe. A coronavirus is a group of common viruses. Some only affect animals, while others can also affect humans. Most people become infected with human coronavirus at some point in their lives. This usually causes mild to moderate upper respiratory infections, such as common colds. But they can also cause more serious illnesses such as bronchitis and pneumonia.
Around 858 people died of MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome),1 which first appeared in Saudi Arabia in 2012 and then in other countries in the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Europe. In April 2014, the first Americans were hospitalized for MERS in Indiana, and another case was reported in Florida. Both of them have just returned from Saudi Arabia. The Middle East Respiratory Syndrome2 outbreak occurred in Korea in May 2015, the largest outbreak outside the Arabian Peninsula. In 2003, 774 people died due to an outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). In 2015, there were no more SARS case reports. Middle East Respiratory Syndrome and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome are types of coronavirus.
In early January 2020, the World Health Organization identified a new type: the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in China.3 There were 300 confirmed cases in China by late January, and the number of deaths is still clear but is increasing. And despite screenings at the airport, a traveler brought the first case of coronavirus to the United States.
Coronavirus often causes symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections such as nasal congestion, coughing, and sore throat. You can treat it with rest and over-the-counter medication without a doctor’s prescription. Coronavirus can also cause otitis media in children.
The human coronavirus is usually transmitted from one infected person to another through:
- The air from coughing and sneezing
- Close contact, e.g. by touching or shaking hands
- Touching an object or surface infected with the virus, then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes before washing your hands
- On rare occasions, a coronavirus may be transmitted through contact with feces.
Anyone can get the coronavirus, but small children are likely to be infected. Fall and winter infections are more common in the United States.4
Different types of human coronaviruses differ in the severity of the illness they cause and the degree of their spread.
At present, there are six types of coronaviruses that are recognized that can infect humans.
Common types are:
- 229E (Alpha Coronavirus)
- NL63 (Alpha Coronavirus)
- OC43 (beta coronavirus)
- HKU1 (beta coronavirus)
The rarer and more dangerous types are MERS-CoV, which causes Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and SARS-CoV, which is responsible for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome.
The symptoms depend on the type of coronavirus and the severity of the infection. If you have mild to moderate upper respiratory tract infections, such as colds, this may be part of your symptoms:
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
Some infections can cause severe symptoms. Infection can cause bronchitis and pneumonia. Symptoms of more severe coronavirus include:
- Fever, which can increase if you have pneumonia
- Cough with mucus
- Difficulty in breathing
- Chest pain when breathing and coughing
Serious infections are more common in people with heart or lung disease, in people with weakened immune systems, in infants and in older adults.
Your doctor can order laboratory tests for respiratory symptoms and serum to detect human coronavirus infection. Laboratory tests are more likely to be done if you have a serious illness or are suspected of having Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).
To make a diagnosis, your doctor will:
- Get your medical history, including questions about your symptoms
- Do a physical examination
- Can do blood tests
- Can do laboratory tests for mucus, throat swabs, or other respiratory tests.
If you experience symptoms, you should tell your doctor about a recent trip or contact with animals. Most MERS-CoV infections have been reported from countries in the Arabian Peninsula. For this reason, reporting recent travels or contact with camels or camel products is very important when diagnosing Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).
At present, there is no vaccine to prevent human coronavirus infections. However, you might be able to reduce the risk of infections that occur or spread by:
- Washing your hands frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds
- Avoiding touching your face, nose or mouth with unwashed hands
- Avoiding close contact with sick people
- Cleaning and disinfection of surfaces that you touch frequently
- Covering cough and sneeze with a tissue. Then dispose of the tissue and wash your hands.
- Stay home when he is sick.
Unlike rhinovirus, another common cause of flu, the human coronavirus cannot be cultivated in a laboratory. This makes it difficult to assess the impact of the infection on the economy and public health.
There is no specific treatment for coronavirus infections. Most people will be fine on their own. However, you can reduce symptoms through the following:
- Taking over-the-counter pain, fever and cough medicines. However, don’t give your child aspirin. And do not give cough medicine to children under four years.
- Use a humidifier or take hot shower to relieve a sore throat and cough
- Get plenty of rest for the first time
- Drink fluids.
If you are worried about your symptoms, contact your doctor.
To prevent transmission of coronavirus infection, you must stay at home and rest when symptoms occur and avoid close contact with other people. Covering your mouth and nose with tissue or handkerchiefs when you cough or sneeze can also help prevent the spread of the infection. Remember to throw away all used tissues and maintain hygiene at home.
- 1.Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/mers/about/symptoms.html.
- 2.Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). https://www.cdc.gov/sars/about/fs-SARS.html#symptoms.
- 3.Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV). World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019.
- 4.Coronavirus Infections. MedlinePlus. https://medlineplus.gov/coronavirusinfections.html.