Every day we hear and read news about the rapid spread of the threatening new corona virus 2019-nCoV. But what kind of virus is it? How sick does is make us? How is it diffused? How can we protect ourselves? In this article you will find all important information and background knowledge on the current topic.
What are coronaviruses?
Coronaviruses are a family of RNA viruses. The name coronavirus is derived from its crown-like appearance under the electron microscope (Latin “corona”). The tips of the crown are made from coat proteins and determine their affinity (binding capacity) to certain host cells (the cells they infect and that they need for their multiplication). They mainly affect cells of the respiratory tract. There they lead to paralysis of the ciliary movement of the ciliated epithelium and trigger respiratory diseases with the classic symptoms of a flu-like infection of the upper and lower respiratory tract. Pneumonia and pleuritis are possible, but rarely occur. Corona viruses can infect both animals and humans. They occur worldwide. The transmission takes place via droplet infection, contact and smear infection. The transmission from animal to animal, from animal to human and from human to human are possible.
The incubation period (the time between infection and the appearance of the first symptoms) depends on the type of coronavirus. At present, only symptomatic therapy of patients is possible. The patients need to be isolated. Vaccination currently is not available.
Known types of coronaviruses
In 2003 the SARS coronavirus was identified, which leads to severe acute respiratory syndrome.
In 2012, the MERS coronavirus was identified, which leads to the so-called “Middle East respiratory syndrome” and can be potentially life-threatening.
2019-nCoV (Wuhan coronavirus)
The 2019-nCoV (temporary name) was identified at the end of 2019. It originated in Wuhan (China) and quickly spread to China and the rest of Asia in the following weeks.
As of January 28th, 2020 there were over 4,000 known cases of disease in China.
O January 24th, 2020 three confirmed cases of illness were known in Europe.
The virus is transmitted via droplet and contact infection both from animal to human and from human to human. The infection is comparable to the SARS virus. Incubation period (the time from infection to the appearance of the first symptoms) is about 2-14 (individually up to 27) days. Infected people can pass the virus already before the first signs of the disease appear.
The symptoms are relatively unspecific and also occur in other diseases.
Patients with chronic diseases
The initial assumption that the presence of diabetes mellitus, high blood pressure or other cardiovascular disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease means an increased risk, seems, that cannot be confirmed.
Mortality is currently estimated at 3% which is lower than that of the SARS virus. However, it is still too early to make a definitive statement.
In principle, however, as with all other diseases, in a weakened organism the risk of infection is greater, the course of the disease is more severe, and mortality increased compared to healthy people.
As with other corona viruses, we have no causal therapy. The patients must be isolated. The therapy is symptomatic, that means it treats the patient’s symptoms and tries to strengthen its immune system.
Monitoring of the patient
Oxygenation if necessary
In case of bacterial superinfection, antibiotic therapy
Prevention/ general protective measures:
Avoid contact with people who show signs of respiratory infection
Washing and disinfection of hands: the corona virus can be destroyed by alcohol (ethanol, propanol) and by soaps.
If you show cold symptoms yourself, cover mouth and nose to protect others
Avoid touching the face before washing hands
Avoid touching much-touched areas in public places (door handles, grab handles in buses).