More likely than not, you’ve had a version of a real coronavirus at some point in your life.
*record scratch* Wha-whaaaaat?
It’s one of the common pathogens that’s associated with the common cold. You know when you get a cold in the winter, and your doctors (hey, that’s us!) tell you that you don’t need antibiotics because it’s a virus? Well, there are many different viruses that cause that, and they have various names, from rhinovirus to coronavirus.
In fact, it’s likely that when the common cold is rampant, anywhere from 10% to one-third of those upper respiratory infections are being caused by … coronaviruses.
So what’s the big deal with this one?
The novel coronavirus known as 2019-nCoV was detected in the Wuhan province of China in January 2020, where many of the first cases had some contact with a seafood and meat market there. The virus was associated with many respiratory illnesses – some of which were progressing to severe, even fatal pneumonia. Since then, the virus has been popping up all over the world.
What does 2019-nCoV (Wuhan Coronavirus) cause?
The illness is a respiratory infection, so it causes fever and cough, much like the flu. In 80% of the cases, it is a mild, self-limited illness. In the rest, it appears to be more severe, but this is almost always when it infects those who have underlying medical issues, or are elderly or very young (like the seasonal flu virus).
How is nCoV spread?
In much the same way that the flu and other respiratory infections are spread. Through what we call respiratory “droplets”. Basically, when someone with the infection sneezes or coughs, some of their secretions are projected in droplets. If these land on you, or on a surface that you then touch and then touch your face, you can get the infection. But it’s important to remember, that unlike the flu which is rampant in the US this time of year, there are very few cases of this novel coronavirus here. Which means the risk to you is very, very low.
I repeat, the risk of getting novel coronavirus 2019-nCoV is very low.
The risk of getting the flu however is quite high. And unlike 2019-nCoV which has killed no one in the US, the flu can kill as many as 80,000 people every year in this country. So, what’s the moral of this post? Get your flu shot. While you can’t do anything about the novel coronavirus, you can get a flu shot, and you should!
Last update – 1/29/20