Recently I saw the video in Whatsapp, in which a doctor is seen removing a worm from the lip of a person and the attached information suggests the worm was “corona virus”. Obviously this is one of the millions of fake messages that we get to see in social media.
As I start writing this article the world is facing a grave situation fighting against the dreaded Corona virus. It is very important to understand the factual information that is available to us about this virus.
Can we see a virus ?
First of all we must understand a wiggly worms that we see with our naked eye are not viruses. You simply cant see the viruses without help. Even usual microscopes will not show you a virus. They are so tiny and you will need a powerful electron microscope to see them.
Are the viruses dangerous to human?
We are surrounded by viruses of different kinds, all the time. Some of them are harmless and some of them only affect the vulnerable people such as very young and the very old or perhaps those who are weakened already by an underlying diseases such as Diabetes, Heart conditions etc.
We all would have encountered the viruses ever since we were born. The coughs and colds we developed as children are caused mostly by viruses and invariably we recover from these illnesses without any treatment.
Other than the cold viruses Flu virus (Influenza) infections are pretty common and mostly they are seasonal and spreads during winter and rainy seasons.
The seasonal Flu viruses consistently take away thousands of lives every year throughout the world, silently. In the USA Flu virus has killed 5000 people just in the first 2 weeks of this year. We wouldn’t know the number of deaths attributable to Flu infection in India, purely because of the lack of data. It would certainly run in thousands, every year.
History of mankind have been dotted with disasters of various kinds caused by viruses. One such calamity of meteoric proportions has been caused by Flu viruses. The deadliest of all was “Spanish Flu Pandemic” that happened in the year 1918, that killed almost 5% of entire earth’s population at that time, with estimated deaths of close to 5 crores of people. If it were to happen now then 35 crores of people would be dead with the current population of the world. Such was the intensity of death and destruction of “Spanish flu”.
What about the corona viruses ?
Corona viruses are know to humans since 1960’s. It is not a new entity. However viruses time to time mutate, change themselves and become much more dangerous. Corona viruses are zoonotic, meaning that they are transmitted between animals and people. The changes that happen in viruses make them unpredictable and potentially make them dangerous when it jump from animals to human. The corona virus that is causing havoc in china at present is one such mutated virus, thought to have originated from either Bat or Snake that are sold commonly in markets, in china. It has come from a specific province in china called “ Wuhan”. This particular type of corona virus is not known previously and hence it is called as “Novel corona virus 2019” abbreviated as” 2019 NCoV”.
So far it has been reported to have killed over 100 people in china and affected thousands of people. The unofficial death rates could be much higher. It is known to have spread to at least 13 countries around the world, including Japan, Singapore, Thailand, France and USA.
In India, there are people admitted and being observed who were suspected to have corona virus infection. However there are no confirmed cases so far and the test results are not ready yet.
What are the symptoms of latest Corona virus infection?
Fever, cough, difficulty breathing are some of the symptoms. Mild cases can cause cold-like symptoms, while severe cases can cause Pneumonia, severe breathlessness, kidney failure and death.
Do we need to be worried?
Corona virus is spreading pretty fast and we at least need to be vigilant and aware of the dangers. Indian government is taking essential steps to fight against this disaster, if it were to spread in India.
Airports are being under strict vigil. In addition to 7 airports that are screened already, screening of passengers is being expanded to 20 airports across India. So far 35,000 passengers have been screened and thermal scans are put in place in airports to screen passengers coming from china.
Indian government is expanding facilities to test the samples coming from suspected cases. There is also emergency help line (+91-11-23978046) that is set up to give information to public and to guide them .
How to prevent Corona virus infection
There is currently no vaccine to prevent 2019-nCoV infection. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus. These include
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
These are everyday habits that can help prevent the spread of several viruses including corona virus.
How to protect others
If you have cold-like symptoms, you can help protect others by doing the following
- stay home while you are sick
- avoid close contact with others
- cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands
- clean and disinfect objects and surfaces
Are there any treatment available if one gets infected?
There are specific antiviral antibiotic treatment available for 2019-nCoV infection, but they are at present being tested for safety and efficacy. Vaccines for corona virus are being developed and hopefully would come to our resque very soon. However, People infected with 2019-nCoV should receive supportive care to help relieve symptoms. For severe cases, treatment should include intensive care treatment to support vital organ functions.
People who think they may have been exposed to 2019-nCoV should contact your doctors or health authorities immediately
One final useful suggestion is to ignore social media forwards. Almost all of them are mischievous and fake.
Take care !! Contact us if you require any further information