If you weren’t familiar with the Corona virus before, you know it now. Let’s do a round up of facts we know about this invader.
- This nano-sized virus is nimble, travels very easily, and has capability to change. It needs human hosts in order to live. Without live human cells it cannot reproduce and live. COVID-19 is a new strain of the Corona virus, similar to the one that caused the SARS epidemic in 2002, though little was known about the organism that was causing such a virulent disease at the time.
- There are now more than 40 different members of the Corona virus family. In the 1960s veterinary research was the first to recognize corona viruses as the source of diseases that affect a number of species, including pigs, cattle and some birds.
- As the knowledge base around these viruses continue to grow there has been an increased understanding around the ability of some virus to move from a host animal or bird, via a vector (such as an intermediary like a mouse) to humans. These diseases are known as Zoonotic diseases.
- COVID 19 is a zoonotic disease. Its source is presumed to be a bat, but its vector remains unclear. Determining it requires detailed field work that will take months or longer.
- The research on how this virus functions is driving the rapid development of of a vaccine, as well as the use of existing drugs to manage the more severe symptoms. A recent article in The Economist noted more than 300 COVID papers have been posted on a medical research repository since the outbreak in China in December 2019.
What Happens in the Body?
Clinicians are seeing a wide range of responses from people who are known to be infected. Mild to moderate infection seems to be managed with comfort measures for the cough, the aches and fatigue.
Antibodies are formed as the body attempts to repel the invader. Science is in the process of understanding how long these antibodies will last. If they are long-lasting, then it is possible they could prevent re-infection, but the evidence is evolving at this point.
The more serious response to the virus leads to significant respiratory infection. Like the 1918 influenza pandemic, the lungs are the virus’s most significant breeding ground, leading to impaired breathing and for some Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome ARDS. Herein lies the battle for breath, for life.
What we do not know at this point is how many people may be carrying the virus yet only experienced mild or moderate symptoms and were not tested. The lack of wide-spread testing at the outset has challenged projections on the number of infections. As this short video demonstrates the virus needs us to live and reproduce.
It’s difficult and frightening to many to see the invader move around the globe bringing illness and death to new communities. The requirements for social distancing, and even isolation, to slow the spread creates its own stress. How long will this last? Will I become ill? What happens if my parents, who live across the country, become ill?
We all share anxiety about this pandemic, but we are reminded by CDC in their Community Strategy these are the only strategies that will eventually lead to the virus demise.