What Is Coronavirus?
coronaviruses are a type of virus. There are many different kinds, and some cause disease. A newly identified type, called the 2019 novel coronavirus, has caused a recent outbreak of respiratory illness that started in China. Lauren Sauer, M.S., the director of operations with the Johns Hopkins Office of Critical Event Preparedness and Response and director of research with the Johns Hopkins Biocontainment Unit, shares information about the 2019 novel coronavirus and what you need to know.
How is the 2019 novel coronavirus spread?
Recent information indicates the 2019 novel coronavirus, also called 2019-nCoV, may be passed from person to person. There are still a lot of unknowns, including how contagious it might be.
The spread of this new coronavirus is being monitored by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the World Health Organization and health organizations like Johns Hopkins across the globe.
How did the 2019 novel coronavirus spread to humans?
The 2019 novel coronavirus appeared in Wuhan, a city in China, in December 2019. Although health officials are still tracing the exact source of this new coronavirus, early hypotheses thought it may be linked to a seafood market in Wuhan, China. Some people who visited the market developed viral pneumonia caused by the 2019 novel coronavirus. A study that came out on Jan. 25, 2020, notes that the individual with the first reported case became ill on Dec. 1, 2019, and had no link to the seafood market. Investigations are ongoing as to how this virus originated and spread.
This virus probably originally emerged from an animal source but now seems to be spreading from person to person. The virus has been detected in people throughout China and 14 other countries, including the United States.
What is the incubation period for the 2019 novel coronavirus?
It appears that symptoms are showing up in people within 14 days of exposure to the virus. During incubation, patients are not infectious.
What are the symptoms of the 2019 novel coronavirus?
The 2019 novel coronavirus causes viral pneumonia, with symptoms including:
- Shortness of breath
- In rare cases, it can lead to severe respiratory problems, kidney failure or death.
If you believe you have these symptoms and you have traveled to Wuhan, China, within 14 days, see your health care provider.
How is the 2019 novel coronavirus diagnosed?
Diagnosis may be difficult with only a physical exam because mild cases of the new coronavirus may appear similar to the flu or a bad cold. A laboratory test can confirm the diagnosis.
How is the 2019 novel coronavirus treated?
As of now, there is not a specific treatment for the virus. People who become sick from this coronavirus should be treated with supportive measures: those that relieve symptoms. For severe cases, there may be additional options for treatment, including research drugs and therapeutics.
Does the 2019 novel coronavirus cause death?
As of Jan. 27, 2020, 80 deaths have been attributed to the virus. Many of the deaths occurred in the elderly and in individuals with other preexisting diseases and conditions.
How do you protect yourself from the 2019 novel coronavirus?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has these suggestions:
- Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly for at least 20 seconds. Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water aren’t available.
- Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands
- Stay home when you are sick
- Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects people frequently touch
What are the precautions for coronavirus?
Several health agencies in China and other countries, including the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in the United States and the World Health Organization (WHO), are keeping a careful eye on this coronavirus and taking steps to prevent illness from spreading.
For updates, visit the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). For information on how Johns Hopkins is monitoring coronavirus, visit Johns Hopkins Office of Critical Event Preparedness and Response.
- Coronaviruses are common in different animals. Rarely, an animal coronavirus can infect humans.
- There are many different kinds of coronaviruses. Some of them can cause colds or other mild respiratory (nose, throat, lung) illnesses.
- Other coronaviruses can cause more serious diseases, including severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).
- Coronaviruses are named for their appearance: Under the microscope, the viruses look like they are covered with pointed structures that surround them like a corona, or crown.