Coronavirus: Coronaviruses are a family of viruses discovered in the 1960s causing different types of diseases, from a cold to severe pneumonia. There are different types of coronaviruses that usually contract in childhood during the fall or winter, but can be acquired at any time of the year. At the end of December 2019, the first cases of a new outbreak of coronavirus, the 2019nCoV, were reported in the city of Wuhan (China) which has caused several deaths after transmission from person to person.
In general, the main symptoms of coronavirus infections are usually:
- Secretion and runny nose
- Sore throat and headache
- Chills and malaise
- Shortness of breath (breathlessness)
- In the clinical spectrum of this type of infections, it varies from the absence of symptoms to mild or acute respiratory symptoms. This typology usually involves cough, fever and breathing difficulties. It is common for pneumonia and, in the case of MERS, gastrointestinal symptoms, especially diarrhea, can also be recorded.
- As with the influenza virus, the most severe symptoms (and the highest mortality) are recorded in both the elderly and those with immune suppression or with chronic diseases such as diabetes, some types of cancer or chronic lung disease. In extreme cases it can cause respiratory failure.
- We are already going through one of the worst seasons of respiratory infections in decades. Together with the Influenza and outbreaks of other respiratory viruses such as Rhinovirus. Now we have a new virus that we don’t know much about.
- The most important recommendation is to take care of the elderly and of our children from respiratory infections, and to be educated on how respiratory infections or flu spread to prevent it.
- Viruses are spread primarily by droplets of saliva that occur when people sick with the virus sneeze or talk. These drops of saliva infected with the virus fall into the mouth, nose or surfaces or objects that are around us. People get infected with the virus by touching a surface or object that has the virus and then touching their mouth, eyes or nose.
- To determine if the discomfort suffered by a patient comes from a simple cold or from a coronavirus, the doctor can perform a nose and throat culture, or even a blood test.
- In cases of suspected coronavirus, a chest tomography is usually performed to determine the symptoms of pneumonia, as well as other blood coagulation tests, a biochemical analysis and a blood count. Antibody tests and SARS virus isolation are also performed.
- Likewise, in order to contain the transmission, an evaluation is made to those people who present the symptoms and who may be prone to contracting the virus.
- The control of the temperature (with thermal cameras and digital thermometers) of people arriving at an airport from affected areas has been one of the measures that have been put in place to detect possible cases of the coronavirus COVID-19, as it was made with the previous shoots. Questionnaires are also made to travellers. In case of suspicion, they are subjected to evaluation and, where appropriate, transferred to health centres.
Preventive measures that we all must take:
- Wash hands frequently with soap and water.
- Use an alcohol-based hand cleaner.
- Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth. Be aware when touching your face.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, especially when someone is sick.
- Avoid being near people who have flu symptoms.
- Protection with masks if you have to go to places like emergencies: mainly cover the holes in the face, mouth and nose.
- Avoid going to crowded places.
- When the MERS-Cov emerged, it was reported that products of animal origin properly processed by cooking or pasteurization do not pose any risk of infection, but should be handled with care to avoid contamination by contact with raw products.
- Camel meat and milk may continue to be consumed after pasteurization, cooking or other heat treatments. However, its raw consumption should be discarded.
- These precautions should be followed especially by those who suffer from diabetes, kidney failure, chronic pneumopathy or immune suppression, since they are at greater risk of serious illness in case of coronavirus infection.
- There is no vaccine against the human coronavirus that causes a cold, but milder cases can be overcome by following the same steps as a common cold. This does not require medical intervention and if you simply wash your hands frequently, rest and drink plenty of fluids, the symptoms will disappear within a few days. Painkillers such as ibuprofen or paracetamol can also be taken to relieve sore throats or fever.
- In cases of coronavirus SRAS, MERS CoV and COVID-19, hospital admission is usually convenient. Antivirals, high doses of steroids are given to reduce pulmonary inflammation and respiratory support with oxygen. Sometimes, you may need antibiotics, but only if there are supervening bacterial infections, that is, super infection.
- In summary, these types of respiratory infections are treated with antiviral and supportive measures. The treatment is usually adapted according to the severity of the patient, since there are cases in which severe pneumonia occurs, but in others, the manifestations are mild.