Mysterious deadly virus from China threatens millions of people: what is known
In the Chinese city of Wuhan, an outbreak of a previously unknown virus that infects the lungs was recorded Air force. January 13, it became known that the first case has already been registered outside of China.
The disease was detected in 59 people, of which seven are in critical condition.
The emergence of a new virus, due to which patients develop pneumonia, is, of course, a cause for concern. Health workers around the world are preparing for any scenario.
But is the outbreak short-term or is this the first sign of a more serious threat?
What do we know about the virus?
Sick people were taken to examine the virus in the laboratory.
Chinese authorities and World Health Organization concluded that the infection is caused by coronavirus.
A lot of viruses belong to the coronavirus family, but only six of them (and with the new virus seven) can infect humans.
In 2002, as a result of an outbreak of coronavirus that began in China, 8098 people fell ill with SARS. 774 people died.
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“People still remember with horror SARS, which is where fear comes to a large extent, but now we are better prepared to withstand such diseases,” said Dr. Josie Golding of the Wellcome Trust.
How dangerous is it?
The consequences of coronavirus infection are different: from a mild cold to death.
The new virus appears to be somewhere in the middle of this range.
“When we come across a new coronavirus, we want to determine the severity of the symptoms. This time, the symptoms are similar to colds, that is, there’s cause for alarm, but it’s not as scary as SARS, ”says Professor Mark Woolhouse of the University of Edinburgh.
Where did he come from?
New viruses are constantly being detected. They are transmitted from animals in which the virus could not be noticed, to people.
“If you recall the previous outbreaks of viruses when a new coronavirus appeared, the animals were its carriers,” said virologist at the University of Nottingham, Professor Jonathan Ball.
A person first contracted SARS from African civet.
And the Middle East respiratory syndrome (Mers) is regularly transmitted to humans from dromedars - one-humped camels. Since being identified in 2012, out of 2494 known infections, 858 have been fatal.
What animal was the carrier?
The task is simplified when it becomes clear which animal is the carrier of the virus.
This time, the cases of infection were related to the wholesale seafood market in Wuhan.
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Although the carrier of the coronavirus could be marine mammals, such as belugas, sold on the market, they also sell chickens, bats, rabbits, and snakes. Most likely, among them one should look for the source of infection.
Why did this happen in China?
According to Woolhouse, this is due to the number and density of the population and close contacts with animal carriers of viruses.
“No one is surprised that another outbreak occurred in China or in one of the countries of that region,” he says.
How fast does the virus spread?
Probably the most reassuring thing in this situation is that the new virus does not seem to be transmitted from person to person.
When studying new viruses that infect the lungs, specialists are primarily interested in precisely this aspect, since the virus spreads very quickly through airborne droplets — through coughing and sneezing.
If it was transmitted from person to person, it would be known about cases of infection by health workers, since they are in close contact with patients. Chinese authorities said this did not happen.
But some experts believe that talking about the impossibility of transmitting the virus from person to person is premature.
“A total of 59 people had to contact the infected animal in a very short period. Intuition suggests that this is too much, so the question remains open, ”says Jonathan Ball.
“I'm more cautious in my assessment than skeptical. It’s too early to say anything for sure. Most coronaviruses are transmitted [from person to person], and it bothers me, ”adds Woolhouse.
What is the propagation speed?
In all 59 patients, symptoms began to appear between December 12 and 29, 2019.
There are fears that the virus might spread as millions of people travel around the country before the Chinese New Year.
As the ABC News, January 13, it became known about the first case of a mysterious new strain of coronavirus outside of China - a Chinese tourist who flew to Thailand fell ill.
“The possibility of detecting cases in other countries was not unexpected and confirms why WHO calls for continued active monitoring and preparedness in other countries,” the statement of the World Health Organization said.
What are the Chinese authorities doing?
Infected people received treatment in isolation wards to eliminate the risk of spreading the virus to other patients.
More than 150 people were in contact with infected patients, and now they are under surveillance.
To check passengers, scanners were installed to determine body temperature.
The seafood market was closed for cleaning and disinfection.
Does this bother experts?
Golding: “At the moment, until we have more information, it is extremely difficult to say whether we should worry or not. Until we find out what was the source of the infection, a sense of concern will remain. ”
Ball: “We should worry about any viruses that enter humans for the first time, because they have managed to overcome the first main barrier. Once inside the [human] cell and spreading further, they can begin the process of mutation. As a result, this can enable them to spread more efficiently and pose a greater threat. You shouldn’t give the virus such an opportunity. ”
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