Coronavirus

The 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is a coronavirus identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.

Chinese authorities identified the new coronavirus, which has resulted in more than 1,000 confirmed cases in China. Additional cases have been identified in a growing number of other international locations, including the United States. There are ongoing investigations to learn more, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

What is a Coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing respiratory illness in people and others circulating among animals including camels, cats and bats.

Rarely, animal coronaviruses can evolve and infect people and then spread between people, such as has been seen with Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).

When person-to-person spread has occurred with SARS and MERS, it is thought to happen via respiratory droplets with close contacts, similar to how influenza and other respiratory pathogens spread.

The situation with regard to 2019-nCoV is still unclear. While severe illness, including illness resulting in several deaths, has been reported in China, other patients have had milder illness and been treated and discharged. Symptoms associated with this virus have included fever, cough and trouble breathing.

The confirmation that some limited person-to-person spread with this virus is occurring in Asia raises the level of concern about this virus, but CDC continues to believe the risk of 2019-nCoV to the American public at large remains low at this time.

How is it spread?

Human coronaviruses most commonly spread from an infected person to others through:

  • The air by coughing and sneezing
  • Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
  • Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes before washing your hands
  • Rarely, fecal contamination

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of coronavirus may include:

  • Runny nose
  • Headache
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Fever
  • A general feeling of being unwell

If you have traveled to/from Wuhan City and have symptoms, contact a health care provider before going to see a doctor or visiting an emergency room.

If you have been notified by public health authorities that you might have been exposed, follow instructions provided by your local health department.

How can I protect myself?

There are steps people can take to reduce their risk of getting any viral respiratory infections. These include:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
  • Avoid close contact with people who 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

It is also important for people to stay at home away from others if they are sick.

How is Coronavirus treated?

There are no specific treatments for illnesses caused by human coronaviruses. Most people with common human coronavirus illness will recover on their own. However, you can do some things to relieve your symptoms, including:

  • Take pain and fever medications (caution: do not give aspirin to children)
  • Use a room humidifier or take a hot shower to help ease a sore throat and cough
  • If you are mildly sick, you should drink plenty of liquids, stay home and rest

Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services

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