We live in a world of bacteria, viruses, and parasites. With people always coming into contact with them and other human beings passing them on, it is inevitable that we contract these microscopic invaders at some point or another. The coronavirus is no exception to this rule with approximately 10% of the world’s population carrying the virus in their body due to infection from common day-to-day activities such as shaking hands, sharing food or drink, kissing an open mouth or spitting saliva on someone else.
The viruses are most often carried in the respiratory system but, because of their small size, they can be carried in the stomach and digestive tract as well.
The virus is transmitted from human to human by direct contact with infected bodily fluids or through exposure to contaminated objects such as surfaces, clothes, or other objects that have come into contact with an infected person. It can also be transmitted from an infected mother to her child via birth or breastfeeding.
The diverse nature of the coronavirus
Coronaviruses are genetically diverse but all share a similar structure consisting of two protein structures (the outer and inner envelope) which enclose a lipid membrane containing viral genetic material comprised of RNA rather than DNA. The genetic material of the virus is a double stranded RNA molecule containing approximately 10,000 nucleotides.
The virus was first identified in 1976 when it was isolated from human coronavirus-like particles found in the plasma of SARS patients. Two years later, it was isolated from severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) victims. Like other so-called human coronaviruses, what makes the SARS virus unique is that it is capable of causing severe acute respiratory disease and has been classified as an ‘emerging or zoonotic’ pathogen.
SARS is a viral respiratory illness that was first identified in late 2002 and early 2003. The most recent outbreak of SARS was in 2012 with 9 confirmed cases reported, with the majority of cases appearing in the Chinese province of Guangdong. In this instance, it is believed that the pathogen originated from an animal host (most likely bats) and infected people close to where the bats were being housed.
What happens when someone gets infected from the new virus?
SARS symptoms are similar to those of influenza or common colds and typically include chills, fever, muscle aches and fatigue, however, for some patients they develop into more severe problems such as pneumonia. The SARS virus is airborne (can be breathed in as you walk past an infected person) and infectious for up to 24 hours. While it was initially thought that it only spread through close contact, transmission has now been identified from oral contamination of either the patient or care-giver’s saliva.
The symptoms can sometimes be mistaken for the flu however, there are also distinct differences between SARS and the common cold such as sore throats, coughing, runny noses and nasal congestion; unlike common colds, the SARS virus cannot be spread through casual contact like shaking hands.
With advancements in technology, scientists are continuing to find and isolate new strains of the virus allowing for further research into developing treatments for these infectious diseases.
Human coronaviruses are divided into 3 types: OCV-1, OCV-2, and OCV-3. OCV-1 and OCV-2 are considered “group 2” coronaviruses which cause common colds and the flu while OCV-3 is a “group 1” coronavirus which causes SARS.
Is the protein spike of the new coronavirus dangerous?
The virus can be difficult to detect initially in lab tests because it can contain many different mutations of the surface protein making it hard to identify as a specific strain. The virus attacks healthy cells in the respiratory tract, destroys cilia (cellular projections that help move mucus out of your lungs), and causes excessive amounts of mucus secretion leading to a variety of respiratory problems including severe pneumonia.
The virus is a potential threat to very small children and others who are pre-disposed to respiratory problems (such as asthma). There is a risk of transmission from the mother via childbirth. It is highly contagious with the virus being able to be spread through close contact or even by sharing food or drinks with an infected person.
It is most often passed on via contaminated objects such as food, drinks, phone numbers, or money but it can also pass via casual touching or even breathing in the same air as another person. The SARS virus has been found in pets and wildlife; therefore hand washing after handling pets and even your own pet are recommended.
Is the new coronavirus contagious?
Because it is so contagious, it’s important to prevent the spread of the virus. This can be done by good hygiene and proper hand washing. It’s essential that anyone with the virus stay home until they are well and keep their distance from others, especially from small children or those with respiratory problems.
Individuals suffering from the SARS virus should avoid contact with others, especially those who are sick. You should not share drinks or utensils and always cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough to prevent the spread of contaminants into other people’s environment. For the same reason, you should stay away from crowded places and avoid public transportation. It is also highly recommended that individuals suffering from SARS not go to work or school until they are feeling well.
Once an individual has been infected, it generally takes 3-14 days before the symptoms start to appear. During this time, they are most likely contagious but may not even know it. In order to reduce the risk of infection during this period, it is essential to take extra care with hygiene and keep your distance from others who may be at risk of catching it. Due to the airborne particularity of the virus, one mask is not double as everyone needs to double up and take proper protection regarding the same.
The SARS virus is an infectious airborne pathogen that can be extremely dangerous for many people to come in contact with. Because of its contagious nature, it is important to do what you can to avoid coming into contact with an infected individual.
It is recommended that you do not take public transportation if you are infected and keep your distance from others when possible. If you feel that you may have come in contact with the SARS virus, it’s essential that you seek medical attention immediately.