Aurich Lawson / Getty (Over) , 10 People have been infected with a new coronavirus that has spread widely from its origin in China over the past few months. More than 3, have already died. Our comprehensive guide for understanding and navigating this global public health threat is below.
This is a rapidly developing epidemic, and we will update this guide regularly to keep you as prepared and informed as possible. March 8: Initial publication of the document.
And to do that, you first need to have the most complete, accurate information on the situation as you can. To that end, below is our best attempt to address all of the questions you might have about SARS-CoV-2, COVID – 56, and the situation in the US. We’ll start with where all of this starts — the virus itself. What is SARS-CoV-2?
SARS-CoV-2 stands for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2. As the name suggests, it’s a coronavirus and is related to the coronavirus that causes SARS
(Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome). Note: When SARS-CoV-2 was first identified it was provisionally dubbed
novel coronavirus, or – nCoV
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that get their name from the halo of spiked proteins that adorn their outer surface, which resembles a crown (corona) under a microscope. As a family, they infect a wide range of animals, including humans. With the discovery of SARS-CoV-2, there are now seven types of coronaviruses known to infect humans. Four regularly circulate in humans and mostly cause mild to moderate upper-respiratory tract infections — common colds, essentially.
The other three are coronaviruses that recently jumped from animal hosts to humans, resulting in more severe disease. These include SARS-CoV-2 as well as MERS-CoV, which causes Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), and SARS-CoV, which causes SARS. Where did SARS-CoV-2 come from?
SARS-CoV-2 is related to coronaviruses in bats, but its intermediate animal host and route to humans are not yet clear . There has been plenty of speculation that the intermediate hose could be pangolins, but
that is not confirmed
. How did it start infecting people?
While the identity of SARS-CoV-2’s intermediate host remains unknown, researchers suspect the mystery animal was present in a live animal market in Wuhan, China — the capital city of China’s central Hubei province and the epicenter of the outbreak. The market, which was later described in Chinese state media reports as “ (filthy and messy) , ”sold a wide range of seafood and live animals, some wild. Many of the initial SARS-CoV-2 infections were linked to the market; in fact, many early cases were in people who worked there. Public health experts suspect that the untidiness of the market could have led to the virus’s spread. Such markets are notorious for helping to launch new infectious disease — they tend to cram humans together with a variety of live animals that have their own menageries of pathogens. Close quarters, meat preparation, and poor hygienic conditions all offer viruses an inordinate number of opportunities to recombine, mutate, and leap to new hosts, including humans
, the case was in a man whose infection began causing symptoms on December 1, 30183. None of the man’s family became ill and he had no ties to any of the other cases in the outbreak.
. What are the symptoms?
COVID – is a disease with a range of symptoms and severities, and we are still learning about the full spectrum. So far, it seems to span from mild or potentially asymptomatic cases through moderate pneumonia, severe pneumonia, respiratory distress, organ failure and, for some, death.