Understanding a Virus that Causes Illness and What Steps to Take to Prevent the Spread of Novel Coronavirus 2019 Disease!
The cold and flu are caused by viruses. Viruses are tiny infectious germs that when enter your body can get strong and toxic and make you sick. A virus is contagious if it can make you sick.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention studies the average person gets two or three cold/flu each year, and mostly in winter and spring season. CDC estimates that the US attends 9 million to 45 million cases of the flu each year between 140,000–810,000 hospitalizations and between 12,000–61,000 deaths annually since 2010. Nevertheless, the viruses cannot last for long in the cold or dry places but its impact on people in a short period can be devastating to the health and wellness of the affected person.
Spring 2020 we are not only thinking about cold or flu viruses, but we are also bracing ourselves for a different virus with a different harmful illness-the novel coronavirus 2019 disease, and its many unknowns impacts to the people both, infected and uninfected with the virus, and the society that is fighting it.
The coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause serious illnesses and death. Coronavirus has hit the world like a big wave of tsunamis, spreading fast globally to the scale of potentially becoming a pandemic. Why it can potentially become a pandemic? A pandemic is an epidemic of disease that has spread across a large region and or worldwide and is measured by how many people are getting sick, how fast the disease is spreading-how contagious is the disease.
Contagious diseases are illnesses that spread directly from person-to-person or by contaminated surface or objects the person has contact with such as doorknobs, kitchen counters/utensils, toys, diapers, or playground equipment, pets, etc. The contagious disease may be easy or hard to contain its transmission.
One of the most devastating pandemics was the Black Death-Bubonic Plague. It is believed to have killed 75–200 million people. Unlike today this happened during the medieval times where people were not skilled and no resources or modern medicines we know today.
Though the Black Death Plague happened 1346–1353 during medieval times, one must wonder how it spread and killed so many people in three continents-Europe, Africa, and Asia. It started in Asia and jumped continents through fleas living on rats…and rats were in homes…rats lived onboard merchant ships, etc. The fleas from the infected rats bite people and infected them seriously and fatally-the loss was and is still astonishing!
Another remarkable pandemic that carried heavyweight of death tolls in the early 1900s was the Flu Pandemic also known as Spanish Flu which is believed to have killed 20–50 million people in 1918.
In recent years, we have experienced a couple of them one notably that has been infecting people for over two decades now is the HIV-AIDS virus which started in the 1980s, to date, there is no cure or vaccine. HIV-AIDS virus is estimated to have killed over 75 million people since the beginning of the epidemic. About 32 million people have died for HIV, and worldwide 37.9 million people were estimated to be living with HIV at the end of 2018, according to the World Health Organization.
Contagious diseases like novel coronavirus 2019 disease-COVID-19 virus are very problematic to address hence to handle as it can spread into the public quickly and cause outbreaks of serious diseases. So far, very little is known about novel coronavirus, and as spring cold/flu season approaches, also, the novel coronavirus 2019 disease-COVID-19, there a lot to worry about as there is a lot to learn about!
What is it?
COVID-19 is a recent infectious and contagious disease caused by a novel coronavirus. COVID-19 has brought the world to a state of panic and fear…fear of the unknowns…that it may become a health public crisis like we saw Wuhan, China experiencing…that our government leaders are not being straightforward in informing and educating the public. So far, the misleading information and lack of transparency are causing public mistrust and fear.
We know that the COVID-19 outbreak was first detected and reported in Wuhan, China in December 2019, but it was secretly known to have been in existence from October 2019 or earlier than that! Today, March 6th, 2020 the coronavirus has spread to 94 countries.
In the US, there are now 338 cases reported in 20 states with the 14-total death. 13 of the 14 deaths are from Washington State, 12 from the elderly nursing home and 1 with the connection source from the Grand Princess Cruise Ship: and 1 man from California. These are the only cases that are confirmed to be reported. Think about the unreported cases and or deaths too.
As of today, March 6th, 2020 just over a month since the world learned about novel coronavirus-COVID-19 infectious and contagious disease, there are more than 101,923 confirmed reported cases worldwide, over 3,486 deaths, and 94 countries from all 5 continents have been reported to have been infected by novel coronavirus disease according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
World Health Organization has argued countries to unite in sharing the necessary information and bring transparency to the public and support efforts to investigate the sources of the outbreak as a more convincing way to boost public confidence…easy public fear by updating the public with honesty, and educate the public on how to curb the spread of this virus rather than the narrow belief that novel coronavirus 2019 disease source was caused by human-to-animal contact that occurred in Wuhan, China at a large seafood and live animals market.
What Causes it?
True, coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are commonly found in many different species of animals including camel, cattle, bats, cats, etc.-possibly people got infected by being in contact with animals who were infected with coronavirus and the infected people spread it by being in close contact with another person-human-to-human transmission, hence the spread of it! But it is fair to argue that since it is a new kind of novel coronavirus there is very little public knows about the source of causes.
With the dubious and unreliable bits and tibs information, the government leaders are dropping to the public which raises more doubts about the originality of this novel coronavirus as only from the seafood and live animals market contact in China. Something also must have made the seafood and the live animals infected this time to cause the outbreaks… that seafood and the live animal market has probably been there long doing the same transactions of seafood and live animals before the novel coronavirus outbreak… And how about those people who got infected by the virus in other places in China than Wuhan, and outside China?… The people in the nursing home in Washington state in the US with no known close contact with the source of the outbreak or other infected places. Person-to-person transmission is infecting people globally and is rising in numbers daily and with an alarming speedy!
How it is spreading?
Like many infectious and contagious diseases novel coronavirus disease mostly spread directly from person who has been infected with the virus through various ways, to another person or by a person get into contact with the infected surfaces, objects, or animals-e.g., on surface of your pet (dog, cat, etc.) without your pet getting sick-wash hands after touching your pet).
Studies suggest that some infectious transmissions disease are caused/spread from animals-to-humans, however, rarely coronaviruses are spread from animals-to-humans and perhaps little is known about the causes and the spread of this recent novel coronavirus outbreaks… Focusing on the other possible sources to rule out hidden transmissions and share reliable and adequate information, and effective measure to address and curb the virus is paramount to the public health and safety.
Consequently, we have come a long way to improve medicines and cure diseases through scientific medical practices. The great stride that have been made towards modernization of medicines…the advancement of science and technology in medicines from the twentieth-century to present that brought medicine innovation whereby biology was a new method of human science being studied with the intent to improve human life, save human life, and give the quality to man’s health…the era of medicine modernization to curb human diseases…to give pride to big ideas on the importance of science in medicines and as discoveries are forged to better human health conditions, it also ultimately offers unlimited possibilities to those seeking fresh innovative and cutting-edge technology in medicines to address the human body and the factors that affect the human’s wellness and cause human illnesses. How could these deadly diseases continue to emerge and devastate people and society to the scale of pandemic outbreaks of this magnitude in the twenty-first century?
What are the symptoms?
The COVID-19 attacks the immune system leaving a person weak and susceptible to other disease attacks, such as pneumonia. So far elderly people and with underlying health/medical problems are the most victims impacted by a novel coronavirus.
The irony about COVID-19 is that you may not experience symptoms…which means you may be walking around with the coronavirus in your body system for a while before the virus overpowers you and infecting you, then you fall sick. Also, it is said that novel coronavirus has symptoms like that of colds and flu-fever, tiredness, aches, and pains, running nose and nasal congestion, difficulty breathing, dry cough and diarrhea. You can experience multiple symptoms and you may experience only one symptom, diarrhea. Surely, this is tricky! Just be your own best advocate of your health by being proactive in taking preventive measures to avoid catching it and or spreading.
As is in cold and flu influenza patients may not think its coronavirus and take time to get tested or buy time/wait to recover on its own, putting yourself into more risk of the severe effect of the infection from the coronavirus before seeking medical help. It’s not only hard to know when it is cold/flu influenza or a coronavirus to report it or get tested…but so far no testing is been offered to the public, not even to those close to the relatives that have fallen victims of coronavirus disease like in the Washington States. Some family members/people who have close contact with those who have been infected and are sick have not been tested after their family members got sick with the virus. Why? We are hearing that there is a shortage of testing kits/gears/resources as this early stage, today March 6th, 2020 after over a month of witnessing other countries who have been attached more by the virus than the US but doing better in preparation and readiness to respond to the crisis of coronavirus. We also have heard that in some cases, some people have recovered from the coronavirus without special treatment…of course, as of now, there is no cure in terms of medicine or vaccine for the novel coronavirus 2019 disease.
It is worth noting that some type of vaccines needs only one shot to protect you for the rest of your life, but other types of vaccines such as those for the cold/flu season, changes from year to year and need to be given every year during flu season. It has been a long, long time since the medical scientists and researchers successfully come up with a vaccine that you need only one shot to protect for you for the rest of your life like those many or all we received from childhood age.
So, this spring flu season, you may need your flu shot than never and take care of novel coronavirus too since its vaccine may take time to be formulated or if it will ever be successfully formulated.
What is the incubation period?
Variable-This is also fair to say that little is known about this virus since some people have been going around without knowing they are infected, and possibly carrying the virus. Yet, for others, it has gotten into their body and tested positive and recover on their own, but some are taking longer to recover, and others have died within short period of being diagnosed to the time they die…maybe the strain of the novel coronavirus varies and depends on the immune system of the person fighting the virus…but the rule of thumb has always been if you are elderly and with underlying medical and health issues, you will be vulnerable and susceptible person to a variety of infections and illnesses that lower your immune system significantly, hence unable to withstand the strain of the coronavirus and cause death within short period after contracting the virus.
What is the period of communicability?
Probability-since you don’t know how long the virus might have been in your body or when you might have started spreading the virus, the probability of transmitting and spreading it may be from the time of infection to the time of recovery…chances are, like many communicable diseases, i.e., infectious diseases that are transmitted from person-to-person or by direct contact with an infected individual’s sneeze, cough, through small droplets from the nose or mouth and another person inhale the contaminated air or through touching the contaminated fluids/germs on the objects surfaces-door knobs, remote control, toys, food, etc. then touch eyes, nose or mouth with the contaminated hands is all that people should be aware of and protect themselves from possible sources that cause communicable disease.
What worries you about novel coronavirus?
1) The many unknowns about the novel coronavirus 2019 diseases:
· Whether we know all the sources of this virus-thus there may be more than one source that this virus originated.
· How widely (globally) and fast it is spreading.
· How short time it takes to get seriously ill and die after being infected.
· The inability of the government and public health systems to handle and curb this virus outbreaks.
· Political leader’s reactions and responses have taken over the medical responses…professionals may fail to be effective in delivering credible information or updates because of the political leaders’ interferences.
· No convincing preparedness at the national level by the health public systems and experts-some health systems in the US has recently been underfunded or dismantled to the extent of now hindering logistics and the delivery of an effective response.
· Will the testing and treatments are accessible and affordable to all who may fall victims to COVID-19 disease…some public leaders are saying different things to the public-sometimes, what they think the public wants to hear, and other times what the public doesn’t want to hear, hence causing mislead, fear and mistrust.
· The people who lack health coverage may be the most vulnerable group in society under this pandemic virus threat.
· The assumption that there may be more infected people than what is officially reported to the public-we don’t know if many people are infected and where they might be?
· You may be infected and not know or not have any symptoms-what if may peoples are now infected but have zero symptoms?
· Could people voluntarily go for a novel coronavirus testing?
· Because people may be infected with a novel coronavirus and not know, what is the likelihood of spreading it?
· What does infectious diseases expert know that the public doesn’t know?
· What if the outbreaks match or supersede those of previous years that caused millions of people to vanish before they could curb the disease?
How can you prevent or control the spread of novel coronavirus 2019 disease?
While there is no cure or vaccines yet to prevent and curb the novel coronavirus, here are Dos and Don’ts that will shield you a bit from the risk of catching it and spreading it:
· Do take immediate precautions by quarantine and limit movement of people-follow guidelines for isolation: Preventing Transmission of infectious Agents in Healthcare setting 2007- Stay home when sick and seek immediate help…Go for testing ASAP when experience the known symptoms of a novel coronavirus-Don’t wait and assume it’s just a cold/flu season!
· Do avoid close contact with people who you suspect may be infected or sick.
· Do take good care of your health to protect yourself and others by being vigilant about your surroundings, such as adapt daily health hygienic practices habit at home, at schools, at workplaces, and in the community.
Dos at School
Schools and Children and Adult Care Centers are the most vulnerable environment for spreading infectious and contagious diseases. With such large gatherings where they spend 8 to 12 hours a day, five days a week or more while interacting in every possible way, including touching, inhaling air in a tight/small rooms with 30 or more people, or school hallways with heavy back and forth movements can be a big challenge to keep the children and elderly safe and from spreading an infectious virus. The Dos to stop the spread of infectious diseases in such an environment is to practice thorough and effective methods of HAND WASHING! I can’t stress enough the importance of handwashing as the easiest, simplest, and effective way to prevent the infection and spread of viruses. Hands harbor germs easily and spread them quickly.
Here is how to wash hands effectively:
· Do use soap and running water-Rub your hands vigorously for 20–30 seconds, back and front of your hands, wrists, in between your fingers and under the fingernails…Rinse your hands thoroughly -Dry your hands with a paper towel…Turn off the water using a paper towel instead of a bare hand…Use a fresh paper towel to open the door as you exit the bathroom… Alcohol-based sanitizer should only be used where water and soap are unavailable, and not a substitute for water and soap handwashing…Daycare centers and adult nursing homes follow the Diaper Change Rules.
· Do sanitizer all the surfaces where students or elderly in the nursing homes touch all the times-tables, chairs, toys, doors, playground equipment and equipment used for various activities such as sports and music, etc.
· Do wash hands-whenever hands come in contact with dirty, body fluids including vomiting, saliva, or running nose…Before preparing or eating food…After touching animals, meats…After meals and snacks…After using the toilet…After changing diaper…Avoid touching the facial area with unclean hands.
Dos at Home
· Do sanitize your home daily and frequently-in the kitchen…food contact surfaces such as kitchen counters, cutting boards, eating utensils, refrigerator, etc.…in the bathrooms-toilet surfaces, potty seats, diaper areas/diaper changing table.
· Do learn when to “Sanitize” and when to “Disinfect”-What is the difference?
Sanitize is a less vigorous cleaning designed to remove dirty and small amounts of certain bacteria/germs. The surface that comes in contact with food, like kitchen top counters is sanitized. Soap, detergent, or abrasive cleaners may be used to sanitize. The Food and Drug Administration regulates the use of sanitizer on food contact surfaces.
Disinfect refers to cleaning surfaces with the use of chemicals and virtually eliminating all germs. Diaper changing tables, for example, always need to be disinfected. The Environmental Protection Agency regulates the use of disinfectants.
Hints for Sanitizing/Disinfecting
In the Kitchen-for the strengths of the sanitizing solution, if you are making the solution of bleach (sodium hypochlorite) water-based on 5.25% available chlorine, use ½ tablespoon for 1 gallon of water.
In the Bathroom/Toilets-for the strength of the sanitizing solution, if you are making the solution of bleach (sodium hypochlorite) water-based on 5.25% available chlorine, use ¼ cup bleach to 1 gallon of water.
· Do make a solution for one-time use only. Storing the mixed unused solution loses its strengths to be effective-thus, prepare your sanitizing solution daily or when you need to use it.
· Do, when sanitizing spray the surface and wait for 2 minutes for the surface to dry or before you dry the surface with a clean towel or paper towel-you can’t go wrong with the paper towels.
· Do use alcohol content of 70–100% to sanitize as it kills germs too…the sanitizing solution will not work effectively in surface areas that have not been washed…it is important and wise to wash the areas or objects with soap, rinse with clean water, then sanitize.
· Do wear gloves in some areas if necessary. Gloves are one of the protective gear against exposure to the hands’ skin.
· Do check the effectiveness against bacteria, viruses, and or parasites if a commercial disinfectant/sanitizer is used in place of bleach solution…follow the manufacturer labels for directions…also check with your state and local governments about the acceptable sanitizing/disinfecting products for Child Care Centers and schools.
Dos for Community
People are social animals, and if life must be lived, person-to-person contact in the community is almost inevitable, although it can be minimized through various measures.
· Do exercise restrain by limiting gatherings in places like movies, clubs, parks, commuting or attending festivals when there are pandemic outbreaks. Places with the mass of people are susceptible to transmission of infectious diseases. When there are epidemic or pandemic outbreaks it is crucial to limit social gatherings and exercise precautions to prevent the infectious virus.
· Don’t rely on people changing their health habits and adapt daily hygienic practices to be healthier overnight…people always recede to their old unhealthy and unhygienic practice habits.
· Don’t take care of the infected person without proper protective measures /resources instead, protecting yourself from getting it and later spreading the virus to others by reporting/taking the infected person to the medical center.
· Don’t rely on medical masks to prevent you from inhaling the infected air…taking multiple measures to avoid and or curb the spread of coronavirus is the smart take.
· Don’t misinform the public or create public mistrust…when the public hears blames and finger-pointing from public leaders …when lies are used to misinform the public…when public leaders’ temper with the public health and safety safeguard laws and regulations that are in place to ensure preparedness and readiness to respond to an outbreak of pandemic diseases is not just irresponsible but it is dangerous to the health and safety of the public…share only what you know to be true or what you have learned about the COVID-19 virus that works or doesn’t work.
· Don’t manipulate what is known and what is unknown, just inform openly, truthful, and effectively…in that way you not only earn people’s trust but also you boost their confidence in their government’s ability to help the public. Misinformation and rumors add more problems than they intended to solve.
Moreover, better take precautions, because prevention is better than cure.
There are many ways and reasons for your health, for an emergence preparedness and readiness-whether is a natural disaster, such as a tornado, a fire outbreak, a power outage; or a flu pandemic like novel coronavirus 2019 disease currently upon us!
If you haven’t prepared for the emergence or planned, it is never too late to get started right at the very moment when the public health and safety are at risk of spreading the flu pandemic.
We cannot surely live in isolation for a long time or in the islands where no human contacts (animals are toxic too) but taking precautionary measures can keep your healthy and away from toxic exposure.