A Novel Monster: SRA-SCoV-2

 

The novel coronavirus was first detected and identified in Wuhan city, Hubei province of China in 2019. This is a newly recognized human pathogen pathologically not much different than previous coronaviruses that has  been previously known to cause infection in humans. On the basis of taxonomy,  phylogeny and established practice, the CSG officially recognizes this virus as a sister virus to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronaviruses (SARS-CoVs) and entitles it as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The World Health Organization named the illness caused by the infection of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) as coronavirus disease 2019 (abbreviated “COVID-19”) on February 11, 2020. Coronaviruses are zoonotic viruses as these are transmitted between animals and human beings. They belong to a family of viruses that are involved in causing common cold to more severe illness including Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Several known strains of coronaviruses are existing, multiplying and surviving in many animals (like cats, camels, bats and cattle) which have not still infected humans. However, the Wuhan strain of coronavirus has 96% genetic similarity to a bat coronavirus, so an origin in bats is highly suspected. Till the date, 3485984 cases have been confirmed and 246,475 deaths have been reported worldwide. In Pakistan, 20084 cases have been confirmed and 457 people have died of this fatal disease, while the actual number is suspected to be much more than declared. 

Common signs and symptoms

 

of coronavirus infection are cough, fever, headache, myalgia/ fatigue, sneezing, shortness of breath, body aches, chills, runny nose, respiratory symptoms and dyspnea. However in severe condition, infection can lead to pneumonia, kidney failure and severe acute respiratory syndrome and ultimately death.

Diagnosis:

Coronavirus disease can be diagnosed like other viral infections i.e by testing blood, tissue or saliva sample of suspected person. Consult the doctor immediately, if you observe the symptom of coronavirus infection, especially if you visited china in the past 1 month. Doctor will guide you about the further testing to confirm the viral material and will speak to officials of public health concern.

Treatment:

There is no specific vaccine or antiviral agents for 2019-nCoV. However, efforts are going on to develop new antiviral agents and vaccines against this virus. Brand new drug development for coronavirus will definitely require a huge investment of time and money. While waiting for the discovery of a novel miracle drug against coronavirus, it is worth considering administering already developed antivirals to diseased patients. Antiviral drugs (Remdesivir, ritonavir, lopinavir and interferon-α 2b) are being administered to patients infected with the novel coronavirus for case studies. However, currently WHO recommends only to isolate and provide supportive care therapy including fluid management, fluid intake, oxygen therapy, administration of antimicrobials to treat secondary bacterial infections to lessen symptoms for suspected and confirmed cases.

Preventive Measures:

  • Practicing regular hand washing with soap and regularly using alcohol-based sanitizers.
  • Covering mouth and nose while sneezing and coughing.
  • Properly and thoroughly cooking meat and eggs.
  • Practicing social distancing and avoiding close contact with the specific person having symptoms of coughing, sneezing and other signs of respiratory illness.
  • Avoiding unnecessary and unprotected contact with farm and wild animals
  • Avoiding touch to eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

 

Contributing Author: Dr. Sidra Altaf