What Marylanders Should Know About The Coronavirus Outbreak

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has declared the coronavirus outbreak “an emerging, rapidly evolving situation”. Coronavirus is a type of respiratory disease that spreads between humans and some animal species, such as bats, cats, cattle, and camels. According to the CDC, the disease rarely spreads from animals to humans. But, that does not appear to be the case with the new coronavirus, deemed 2019-nCoV.

The 2019 coronavirus was initially detected in Wuhan, China and believed to have originated from bats and spread to humans through an infected pangolin or snake, according to a new study posted in the journal The Lancet on February 22, 2020.

During the study, scientists collected 10 genome sequences of 2019-nCoV from nine infected patients. Testing revealed the samples were very similar, with over 99-98% “sequence identity”. The findings revealed that 2019-nCoV may have originated from bats purchased from a Wuhan seafood market. The researchers concluded by recommending an “urgent investigation” into the disease.

How Does The Coronavirus Spread?

The coronavirus spreads between humans through respiratory droplets and infected inanimate objects, such as stuffed animals, upholstery, and countertops. Respiratory droplets are produced when a patient infected with the disease sneezes or coughs. The droplets will travel through the air up to six feet in distance.

When Are Patients Contagious?

Many people infected with coronavirus may not be aware of their condition because they are still asymptomatic, not producing symptoms. The virus is believed to spread when patients are asymptomatic and symptomatic. However, the risk of the virus spreading from an asymptomatic patient is much lower than when the patient is very sick. It is also believed that when the virus spreads through multiple generations of families, it will be more contagious than when it spreads among only a few family members or close contacts.

While research is limited, many in the medical community believe symptoms can appear between two to 14 days following the initial exposure.

Coronavirus Symptoms

It is important to not confuse symptoms of the coronavirus with the flu and common cold because they are very similar. The symptoms of the coronavirus include:

  • Dyspnea (shortness of breath)
  • Fever
  • Cough

Coronavirus Laboratory Testing

There are several laboratory tests utilized to diagnose and study coronaviruses. These tests are divided into two categories, serology and molecular. Serology testing is not utilized for diagnosing but studying the virus. Molecular testing, on the other hand, is utilized when an individual is believed to have an active infection.

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