It’s hard to turn on the television or pick up a newspaper and not hear or see the word “coronavirus.” Since the first reported case in December 2019, the virus has spread to several countries and affected thousands of people. Here’s what you need to know.
What is the Coronavirus?
Coronavirus is actually a family of viruses that can lead to a variety of illnesses from the common cold to more severe health issues like SARS and MERS. The most recent outbreak, which has been headlining the news for the past few weeks, is a new strain originating in the Wuhan province of China. It hasn’t previously been identified in people.
Symptoms of this new strain of coronavirus are similar to those of the flu.
Common symptoms include:
- Symptoms of the common cold (runny nose, headache, sore throat).
- Shortness of breath.
- Respiratory complications.
In more severe cases, coronavirus can lead to pneumonia, SARS, complications with the kidneys, and death.
Is There a Cure or Vaccine?
As of February 6, 2020, over28,000 people in several countries around the world have been affected by the coronavirus and more than 560 people have died. There are currently 12 confirmed cases in the United States.
With so many confirmed cases, many people are left wondering how to avoid and treat the coronavirus. Unfortunately, there isn’t currently a cure for the virus, nor is there a vaccine to help protect against it.
While there isn’t a cure yet, experts are working to find one. Gilead's new antiretroviral drug Remdesivir is set to be tested in Wuhan in a double-blind, placebo-controlled study. It’s not the only company working to find a cure, though. Johnson & Johnson, GlaxoSmithKline, and smaller drug producers are all working to find effective treatments and a vaccine for the virus. AbbVie, a biotech company, has stated that it has seen promising results using a mixture of its HIV medications and Tamiflu.
How Can I Avoid Catching the Virus?
The newest strain of coronavirus is believed to have originated from an animal source and can spread from person to person. The best way to avoid catching the virus is to avoid being exposed. The CDC recommends taking everyday preventative measures, including:
- Washing your hands with warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds.
- Avoiding close contact with those who are sick.
- Staying home from work or school when you’re sick.
- Cleaning and disinfecting items and surfaces that are touched frequently.
By taking these steps, you can help to avoid getting, or spreading, the virus, keeping yourself and those around you safe.
What Can I Take for Pain or Other Symptoms?
While there isn’t a cure or vaccine for the coronavirus, there are medications that you can take for pain and other symptoms should you get sick. You can take over-the-counter medicines for pain, fever, and cough such as ibuprofen or aspirin. Your physician may also prescribe medication such as Oxycontin or Tramadol to help manage your symptoms.
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