The Coronavirus group is a potentially lethal group of viruses that can cause disease in birds and mammals. In animals, especially pigs and cows, these viruses might cause diarrhea, while in poultry it may cause upper respiratory disease.
When it comes to humans, coronaviruses can cause respiratory infections that are usually described with mild symptoms, but in some rare cases can be lethal.
The 2019 – nCoV is the newly discovered strain of the coronaviruses and has been identified as the reason for the recent outbreak of a pulmonary disease that was primarily detected in China. The first symptoms of the disease were detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province of China. December 31st, 2019, the World Health Organisation was alerted of the first cases of pneumonia in this area.
At the beginning of the outbreak, many patients have reported their presence at animal and seafood markets which suggested that we might deal with an animal-borne disease. There were reports that the first patients to show symptoms were people that consumed snakes that are believed were infected with the virus. Unfortunately, later patients gave information that they got infected but never visited such large markets.
This was evidence that the disease is not only spread through animals but between people too. At this moment, the CDC (Center for Disease Control) has no clear information about how fast, how easy or sustainable the virus is spreading between patients, but we are aware that the virus is also airborne.
This means that the virus can be spread through tiny aerosol particles from coughing and sneezing. Imagine one infected man getting on the subway or an airplane and sneezes 3 times…
Situation and Updates until now
The Coronavirus is a big family of viruses that can infect cats, bats, camels, cattle and other animals. Very rare, these viruses usually found in animals can infect people. Examples for these occasions are the SARS and MERS outbreaks. SARS and MERS were believed to be spread via close person-to-person contact with sneezing and coughing. The same is believed to be the case with the new coronavirus 2019-nCoV. Nowadays, when traveling is very easy and affordable, spreading of viruses from one country to another is a serious threat.
At the moment (reports from January 29), a total of 6,065 ( six thousand and sixty-five) cases of this disease have been reported globally. 5,997 of these cases have been restricted to China ( Hong Kong, Macau and Taipei included). There have been 132 confirmed deaths in China.
The 2019-nCoV is spreading slowly outside of China too. Nowadays traveling is so easy and because of these viruses and diseases spread more successfully. Outside of China have been 68 confirmed cases in 15 different countries.
In the USA there are only 5 cases, Australia 7 cases, Japan 4 cases, in Europe 8 cases ( 4 in Germany and 4 in France), 4 cases in the United Arab Emirates, 14 cases in Thailand.
These reports are generated by the World Health Organization. To stay updated on recent development and new cases visit their website.
Symptoms of 2019-nCoV
The symptoms in confirmed patients can vary depending on the overall health status of the infected patient. Young individuals, children, elderly people and people with chronic diseases can develop symptoms much faster than a healthy young individual. From no symptoms at all to people being severely sick and even dying.
For those patients that develop symptoms, the symptoms can be described as:
- shortness of breath,
- coughing and sneezing,
- high fever
Just like the common cold. But much more serious.
The CDC believes that the incubation period for 2019-nCoV is 2-14 days, and this depends on the immune system of the infected individual. Some people never develop symptoms and are simply carriers of the virus.
Advice on how to protect yourself
Even though there is no place for panic in the USA or the rest of the World, we should avoid contact with sick people with respiratory symptoms, we should wash our hands more frequently, always cover our nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing and throwing the tissue in the trash, if you feel a bit under the weather it’s better to stay at home, and always clean and disinfect objects and surfaces that are frequently touched and used.
At this moment there is no specific treatment or a vaccine against 2019-nCoV. Patients with symptoms and a confirmed disease can receive supportive care in order to help relieve the symptoms. Critical patients should include vital organ support care.
Can my pet get infected with 2019-nCoV?
Although we know about coronavirus infections in domestic animals, this virus is not the same as the one causing diarrhea in puppies and dogs. There is a Canine Coronavirus Disease that is manifested with diarrhea that can get bloody with mucus. These symptoms can be similar to those of Parvovirus and because of that, it is very important for the veterinarian to make a distinction between the two diseases in order to give proper supportive therapy to the dog.
There are no reports suggesting that Canine Coronavirus can be transmitted to humans or that the 2019-nCoV have been affecting companion animals, so far.
All reports that include animals linked to the new coronavirus 2019-nCoV are animals meant for consumption. The first patients in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China reported getting sick after eating infected meat (more specifically snakes at the local meat market).
Where can I get updates on the current situation?
To stay updated on the current numbers and new cases around the World, and symptoms development for the new coronavirus 2019-nCoV visit the World Health Organisation website and the Center for Disease Control website.