The county medical director brought attention to a new virus originating in the Middle East.
Discovered last year, the “novel coronavirus” — which is named after the virus’s crown-like projections visible under a microscope — appears to be related to viruses in bats and goats, and presents itself as a severe case of the flu. In older people, it can develop into pneumonia.
“It’s a new respiratory virus,” Auglaize County Medical Director Dr. Juan Torres said. “We still don’t know how bad it is or how big of a problem it will be for public health.”
With world travel more convenient, one day a person can be in Wapakoneta and the next day in Hong Kong, which allows for transmission between countries through a cough, he said.
According to HealthDay News, the most serious infections occur in those who contract novel coronavirus with other viral or bacterial infections at the same time.
Treatment is the same as that for severe acute respiratory syndrome (known as SARS), which nearly became a pandemic in 2002 and 2003 and originated in China. SARs killed 800 people around the world, but since 2004, there have been no known SARS infections reported anywhere.
Analyses have shown that this new virus is different from any other
known human coronaviruses.
Torres said to date, half the people diagnosed with the novel type of coronavirus have died from it.
Cases have been reported in Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom and Germany, with the possibility of troops deployed overseas having been exposed.
“We don’t know if the virus has already spread to thousands or if it is a small cluster,” Torres said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continues to work closely with the World Health Organization (WHO) and other partners to better understand the risk posed by the novel coronavirus first reported to cause human infection in September, according to a report released this month.
As of March 7, there were 14 confirmed cases reported to the WHO and eight deaths. Illness onsets occurred from April 2012 through February 2013. It is possible that there are more milder forms of the virus in the region where it appears to have originated, but testing is limited.
To date, there have been no reported cases in the United States.
A case, which began in January in the United Kingdom with the novel coronavirus passed between family members, was the first evidence of human-to-human transmission.
The CDC recommends that anyone who develops a severe, acute lower respiratory illness within 10 days of traveling from the Arabian Peninsula or neighboring countries to be evaluated.
Those who develop such an illness and are in close contact with someone traveling to such an area also should be considered for evaluation. Lab tests can confirm what type of illness the person may have.
Most people will contract at least one coronavirus — a cause of the common cold — some time in their life, with mild to moderate symptoms to be expected. Coronaviruses also may infect animals.
The viruses are spread through the air, by coughing and sneezing and close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands. The viruses also may be spread by touching contaminated objects or suffices then touching one’s mouth, nose or eyes.
There are no vaccines to guard against the coronavirus infection, but its spread can be reduced with thorough hand washing with soap and water, not touching eyes, nose or mouth, and avoiding close contact with people who are sick.
There also are no specific treatments for the virus, but symptoms may be relieved with pain and fever medications, using a room humidifier or taking a hot shower, drinking plenty of liquids, and rest.