Where Did It Actually Come From?
For many, this may be the first time they have ever heard the word coronavirus with the emergence of COVID-19 or know very little about coronaviruses. The club-like spikes (that gives the virus its name) that project from the surface of these Coronaviruses (CoVs) is its main characteristic along with the viruses unusually large RNA genome and its unique replication ability. Coronavirus causes a variety of disease in mammals such as pigs, cows, camels and birds, and upper respiratory disease in chickens, and potentially lethal human respiratory infections. The primary carriers of the coronavirus were found to be in bats in China and Camels in Qatar and in Saudi Arabia where it then began to make its jump to other species (pigs and birds) and to humans via primarily dromedary camels.
Since the 1960's human coronaviruses (HCoV's) were discovered and known to be responsible for a large number of common colds (Did You Know FACT: there are several viruses that cause the cold and flu) and many mild and upper respiratory tract infections (HCoV229E and HCoV OC43). More serious respiratory diseases, i.e. pneumonia, bronchitis and bronchiolitis primarily in elderly people, immunosuppressed patients, and especially young children and neonates have been linked to HCoV. These viruses have also been involved in infections caught in a hospital setting that has shown resistance to antibiotics (nosocomial viral infections). This was the case with 2002-2003, China outbreak of SARS-associated coronavirus that led to the discovery of a new coronavirus (SARS-CoV); severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus; and again with the outbreak of MERS-associated with coronavirus (MERS-CoV); Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus; in 2012 in Saudi Arabia and other Middle East countries and again in a larger outbreak in Korea in 2015.
For years, until the emergence of SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV, human coronaviruses; HCov's; were not detrimental and were mild with the exception of the more severe bronchial infections that affected the more susceptible adults, young children, and infants. With the COVID-19 pandemic, I hope COVID-19 brings to light the need to better control the spread of the cold and flu and it simply starts with us and easy preventative measures.
Is There Treatment For Coronaviruses?
As of today, there is no treatment or vaccine available to treat or cure HCoV infections. In my personal opinion, I do not see a cure in the next twelve months as the press has reported, however, I do see more progress in the form of a shot, much like that of the flu. Keep in mind that this virus is still evolving and to come up with a cure or preventative shot (similar to that of the flu) is still some time away and the first few will be very experimental with subsequent shots being a guessing game. Much like the flu shot still is today.
DID YOU KNOW FACT: The predictions of the severity of flu season and the development of the flu shot is based on the patterns of the northern hemisphere. Australia will be hit with the cold and flu before it reaches the states and Europe. This is why the flu shot is a guessing game and is anywhere between 10% to 70% effective as the flu can mutate and change as it did in 2017-18 that created a pandemic.
Will Cold Temperatures Kill The Coronavirus Off?
The human coronavirus (HCoV) has some resistance to environmental factors in that it can live in a larger range of conditions (temperature and humidity) however, this does not mean it's impervious to it. What has been learned is that that one form of HCoV aerosolized (airborne) was found to survive very well in temperatures of 68 degrees Fahrenheit and 50% relative humidity. Higher levels of humidity seemed to be less favorable to the survival rate of HCoV unless the temperature dropped to 43 degrees Fahrenheit and regardless of the rate of relative humidity. The high survival rate of this common coronavirus, HCoV, ranged from 39 oF to 98.6 oF (survival was for at least 2 hrs at 98.6 oF). The reduction of this virus was noted in environmental temperatures of 68 oF with at least 50% to 70% relative humidity present and in temperatures below 39 degrees Fahrenheit regardless of humidity. With this information, in my opinion, the COVID-19 has the perfect conditions at this time of year to thrive. I believe we all will see a reduction as temperatures increasing over 68 oF and have from at least 50% to 80% relative humidity present.
Area's to experience the decrease will be in Florida and many places in the south and Midwest where higher humidity is found. I believe we may see it stay around a little longer in dryer (low humidity) states such as AZ, CO, WY, etc. until temperatures reach at least around 90 oF. You will see higher incidents of the virus in more populated areas such as New York, California, and places where the temperature is optimal for this virus to thrive. You will also note much lower incidences in less populated locations i.e. Wyoming, N. & S. Dakota, etc. and locations across the globe that have the right temperature and humidity combination or where it's too cold for the virus to thrive outside of the body. Once it enters your body all bets are off. Lowering or raising your body temperature does not affect the virus.
Do Special Disinfectants Need To Be Used When Cleaning?
Normal disinfectants have shown to effectively fight against HCoV's. Such disinfectants are hand soap and many of the common cleaning agents you use today. So continue to wash your hands and clean as per usual. WASH YOUR HANDS ESPECIALLY AFTER BATHROOM USE! Contaminated surfaces are not the primary way this spreads per CDC. However, testing of SARS-Cov has shown that it lives in urine and feces for 3-7 days and it's believed that other HCoV's will as well.
The take away from this is, that otherwise healthy children seem to be resistant to COVID-19 unless they are already compromised by the flu or an upper respiratory infection or other immunosuppressant condition that makes them susceptible to the virus. Children are also considered to be possible carriers of the virus. Children have always been walking Petri dishes. They can carry the flu virus for up to 14 days even after symptoms have subsided. This is one of the reasons it makes so many rounds in a household and schools. Adults are more affected by COVID-19. However, as long as you are a healthy adult you may have very mild symptoms similar to that of a cold or mild flu and around 80% won't have symptoms at all. Recovery comes after 5 to 14 days after symptoms appear. Just as in children, adults with compromised immune systems due to the flu, the cold, respiratory issues or infections, diabetes, cancer, and other immunosuppressant conditions will be highly susceptible to COVID-19. Those who are over the age of 60 yrs and, more so, those in their 70's and older regardless of health.
As it stands, at the posting of this blog, COVID-19 in the United States, people who have been infected in the U.S. are 13,000 with 187 deaths. This puts the activity ratio at 2%-3%. Worldwide there are 191127 infected with 7807 deaths...WORLDWIDE not within the U.S. alone.
To keep this in perspective and to curb the panic of COVID-19, thousands of people also die from the flu and flu-related illnesses every year. The Flu Pandemic of 2017-18 was at a high of 7.5% when it was declared a pandemic 16 weeks in. Nationally (in the U.S.) the death rate, during this time period, exceeded 10% from pneumonia and influenza for four consecutive weeks. The total deaths by the flu that year was 61,099. This flu was very deadly and spread like wildfire. Yet the response to this flu is nothing with what is going on with COVID-19. While this virus is deadly some perspective needs to be realized of how deadly the flu is to us every year. When you're sick from the flu, a cold or other immunosuppressant reason you can quickly become sicker with other viruses that can take your life very quickly. Just as COVID-19 is doing.
In closing be safe, keep a level head, wash your hands and be mindful of the elderly every cold and flu season. To learn more about COVID-19, it's symptoms and how it spreads (primarily airborne) you can go here to the CDC website.
Donna Dayton - March 20, 2020
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