Coronavirus: Rising Body Temperatures, Persistent Cough, Shortness of Breath

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Photo Credit: CDC

Kitana Ford, Copy Editor

Rising body temperatures; a hoarse, persistent cough; shortness of breath—all of which is more commonly associated with influenza. However, on January 30, the World Health Organization announced the outbreak of a virus that mirrors more severe flu-like symptoms: the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Consequently, on January 31, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar II declared that the virus had transitioned from an international concern to one of the United States. As a result, flu-like symptoms are now being associated with COVID-19 and has led to a worldwide panic. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that Coronaviruses are common in people and animals, which include camels, cats, cattle and bats. Although animal Coronaviruses rarely spread to people, there seems to be a correlation between beta coronaviruses and bat origins. To elaborate, COVID-19 is both a beta coronavirus, and its origin is from bats, making people more susceptible to contract the virus. 

Additionally, there was a link between patients and a live animal and seafood market in Wuhan, China where the outbreak of COVID-19 began. At that point, the virus was labeled as animal-to-person spread, and was later changed to person-to-person spread when some patients reported no exposure to animal markets. Once the virus spread to the United States it was categorized as community spread, meaning it is not known how or where certain individuals became exposed. The virus is also thought to spread through contaminated surfaces or objects, which may contribute to community spread. As previously mentioned, symptoms of the virus include fever, cough and shortness of breath within two to fourteen days after exposure. According to the CDC, “Reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death for confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases.”

Furthermore, people in places with ongoing community spread of the virus, healthcare workers caring for patients with COVID-19, those in close contact with infected individuals and travelers returning from affected locations are at elevated risk of exposure. Overall older adults and individuals with chronic conditions are more susceptible to contract the virus. In addition, pregnant women and children may also be at risk due to their frequent “immunologic and physiologic changes which might make them more susceptible to viral respiratory infections, including COVID-19.” However, the adverse effects that may occur among each age group is still unknown. 

As for the prevention and treatment of the virus, there is currently no vaccine or medications to prevent the virus. Preventative techniques such as avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth; avoiding close contact with ill individuals, cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces and wearing a face mask if you are symptomatic are the best defense against the virus. 

At the same time, the virus has affected 107 countries and territories and one international conveyance. Although the death rate is only six percent in comparison to the recovery rate of 94%, there have been 423 cases and 19 deaths in the United States to this point. In the coming days, it is likely that there will be more cases of COVID-19. Additionally, officials have predicted a widespread transmission of the virus in the United States at some point. 

“Widespread transmission of COVID-19 would translate into large numbers of people needing medical care at the same time. Schools, childcare centers, and workplaces, may experience more absenteeism. Public health and healthcare systems may become overloaded, with elevated rates of hospitalizations and deaths.”