The Crown Virus
The Corona Virus (the Crown-shaped Virus)
Coronaviruses were first observed back in the 60s, when medical scientists were studying an infectious bronchitis found in chickens. Soon thereafter, similar viruses were found in human patients suffering from a cold. Since then, several more virulent types of disease-causing coronaviruses have been identified.
The most important are MERS-CoV (MERS coronavirus) which causes MERS (Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome), SARS-CoV (SARS coronavirus), which causes SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and most recently, SARS-CoV-2, which is the pathogen behind the most-recent coronavirus disease, COVID-19.
Please note that all CoV shorthand is used to describe a type of virus. Also, the 19 numeral in COVID-19 refers to the year of discovery, 2019.
Coronavirus Disease Prevention in Hong Kong
Coronavirus in the News
When following news updates on the latest viral outbreak (2020), you will usually see or hear, the term coronavirus. This is simply a reference to the disease, caused by a newly discovered virus (SARS-CoV-2), which is behind the mass infections, currently plaguing places like China, South Korea and Iran. Just to make things a little confusing, the mainstream press may also use the word, coronavirus, to describe the virus, infecting the human population and causing the disease.
Worldwide Map of SARS Fatalities
Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)
Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, better known as SARS, was the first of several viral respiratory ailments linked to the coronaviruses. This outbreak occurred in 2002-2003. Basically, the spread of disease occurred mostly in Southeast Asia with southern China and Hong Kong receiving the most cases. For some strange reason, Canada recorded 43 deaths. Overall around 8,000 were infected, while of those 8,000, 774 people perished in the outbreak. Since 2004, there have been no cases reported, in China, or anywhere else in the world.
Recently, the genetic reservoir for this pneumonia-like disease was discovered to be several species of horseshoe bats found in one province of China (Yunan). There was also an intermediate host for this disease. The culprit in this case was the civet cat, a primitive feline that can be found all across Southeast Asia. Obviously, human to human transmission occurred later on, resulting in infections in such faraway places as South Africa and France.
One of Many Hosts
MERS - Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome
MERS or Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome was first observed in the Arabian Peninsula in 2012. The virus is associated with camels and has been known to exist in the nations of Bahrain, Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Yemen. Like many of the diseases caused by coronavirus infection, the illness first appears as something resembling a cold, but may develop into more serious respiratory ailments, including pneumonia. As of November 2019, roughly 2400 have been infected with over 800 deaths. The mortality rate is about 33%, which is relatively high for a virus infection. Fortunately, MERS does not appear to be as contagious, as many other virus-caused ailments.
A virus of the coronavirus type can be found in the Egyptian Tomb bat of the Arabian peninsula. Furthermore, this bat is believed to be the natural reservoir for the MERS virus, even though the MERS coronavirus seems quite capable of surviving for long periods in camels.
The Lowdown on MERS
The Spread of MERS
Fortunately, for those who live and visit the Arabian peninsula, MERS is not a widespread medical problem, though it should be kept in mind that the respiratory ailment can be fatal. For the most part, close contact with camels or someone who works with these animals are the most likely point of transmission. And unlike SARS, MERS is still active on the Arabian peninsula, though infections today are uncommon.
Bats in Flight
In December 2019, doctors in Wuhan, China suddenly became overwhelmed with a viral outbreak that had a strange resemblance to the SARS outbreak of 2002-2003. The virus was so similar to the SARS virus that the scientific notation for the new discovery was the same, except for the numeral 2 added to the end. Compare SARS-CoV to SARS-CoV-2 and you can easily see the difference.
Next came the task of naming the disease, which in modern times falls upon the World Health Organization, better known as WHO. The official name is now COVID-19. The longhand version would read as coronavirus disease 2019 with the last four numerals referring to the year of discovery..
Wuhan Market Closed
What's Happening with COVID-19
As the new year, 2020 approached, a new coronavirus infection was traveling through the sprawling city of Wuhan, China. Then as the Roman calendar switched to 2020, the disease began spreading like wildfire. Before the Chinese health officials got the outbreak under control, almost 75,000 were infected and over 2,000 people had died. During the month of February, the disease has spread to more than 40 countries. So far, fatalities outside of China, are slight, but the rising toll in Iran, Italy and South Korea are troubling, raising the possibilities of a worldwide pandemic in the making.
Coronaviruses and Bats
Since their discovery in the 1960s, many of the coronaviruses have been associated with bats. Overall, bats are extremely beneficial animals that consume a huge amount of insects. Still, it is important to note that they also harbor numerous disease pathogens, including the coronavirus. Furthermore, it is believed that the viral strand of all three of the major infectious diseases are caused by coronaviruses, MERS, SARS and COVID-19 are all flu-like diseases that may have originated from local bat populations in the Arabian Peninsula or China.
Dangerous Wet Markets
The Wuhan Seafood and Wildlife Market
Since the COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan and China has become international news, much interest has centered on this popular market, as the original source of the outbreak. Further investigation and research has suggested that the market is probably a place where the disease was able to multiply and spread, but the original point of infection remains a mystery, even though it probably occurred some place quite close in proximity to the city of Wuhan.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 Harry Nielsen