What Is Human Coronavirus? Causes, Symptoms, Treatment And Prevention

Shivangi Karn

The spread of a new type of coronavirus had fuelled anxiety across the country. Medical researchers believe that this new virus is from the family of SARS-CoV (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus) that has caused an epidemic in the year 2003. They also found out that the virus had spread to humans from animal products or seafood available in the China market.

The news came to highlight on January 7 after the confirmation of a novel coronavirus by the Chinese authorities. The virus was temporarily named as 2019-nCov. The World Health Organization (WHO) in coordination with Chinese authorities and worldwide medical experts are finding ways to deal with this novel coronavirus and treat people infected with the virus.

What Is Coronavirus?

Coronavirus is a term used for a group of viruses which are mainly found in animals. Human coronavirus is a type of zoonotic disease in which the infection spreads from animals to humans. There are around six coronaviruses identified by scientists to date that affect human beings and cause mild to severe symptoms. However, the recent coronavirus spread in China has not been identified yet. [2]

The first case of Human coronavirus was found in the year 1960 in a patient suffering from a common cold. The name 'corona' was given to the virus based on its crown-shaped when viewed from an electron microscope. Such viruses are often harmless and may cause mild respiratory tract infection, especially during the winter season. People often get infected with coronavirus at some point in their lives, get recovered and may get the infection again after a few months.

The six types of coronavirus infecting humans are alpha coronavirus (NL63 and 229E), beta coronavirus (HKU1 and OC43). The remaining two SARS-CoV (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus) and MERS-CoV (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus) are known for its life-threatening symptoms.

Causes Of Human Coronavirus Spread

Human coronavirus often affects the respiratory tract of a person. The infected fluid in the tract gets transmitted to other people during coughing or sneezing. Also, if the infected person sneezes or coughs in the open air without covering their mouth, the virus spreads in the air through the dispersed droplets. [3]

The other reasons for the spread of the virus are shanking hands with the infected person, touching the infected object/surface accompanied by touching the nose or mouth simultaneously and touching the patient's excreta in rare cases.

Symptoms Of Human Coronavirus

NL63 and 229E, HKU1 and OC43 cause flu-like symptoms which range from mild to moderate. On the other hand, MERS and SARS cause severe symptoms. The symptoms of the prior are as follows: [4]

  • Runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Sneezing
  • Fatigue

People with a weak immune system or who are older have a higher chance of getting infected by the virus and getting serious illnesses like pneumonia or respiratory tract disorder. The symptoms of MERS and SARS are deadly as they are known to cause severe respiratory problems along with kidney failure, diarrhoea and death of a person.

Diagnosis Of Human Coronavirus

Human coronavirus is diagnosed by certain laboratory tests which are as follows: [5]

  • Molecular tests: To find out the signs of active infection.
  • Serology tests: This test is for surveillance purpose. It is done to detect the antibodies from the previous infection which shows the type of virus a person has been exposed.

Treatment Of Human Coronavirus

The exact treatment for human coronavirus has not been discovered yet. Several vaccines to aid the conditions are still under development. However, there are many supportive treatment methods and over-the-counter medicines which can treat its mild-to-moderate symptoms. For example, medicines to treat pain and fever or hot showers to treat sore throat. [6]

Prevention Of Human Coronavirus

  • Wash hand after sneezing or coughing in it.
  • Cover the mouth before coughing or sneezing
  • If you believe you are infected, avoid close contact with people.
  • Avoid eating uncooked meats and eggs.
  • Hydrate yourself all the time.
  • Take medications as soon as the symptoms show up and don't let the condition become severe
  • Avoid smoky areas or smoking.
  • Get proper rest
  • Stay away from crowds

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