The Micro beings that cause Havoc
The Wuhan Outbreak
Let’s talk about the living things we cannot see but can bring a turmoil in our lives. Yes, I am talking about microorganisms like bacteria, viruses and parasites. The current situation in the world is a little scary because of the new coronavirus outbreak. This virus that is causing a havoc is called the Wuhan virus originating from the city of Wuhan (obviously) based in China. Most of us know how it started but for the ones that don’t, let me tell you. It is believed to have originated from a wholesale seafood market in Wuhan called the Huanan seafood market. The brief story goes like this : A Chinese national in Wuhan consumes bat soup and gets infected. He spreads the infection to other people who come in contact with him or his other body fluids like mucus or contact with eyes. So this person is the index patient (the first individual to have been identified as the cause of the spread). However, scientists have not been able identify the confirmed source of the infection. We keep hearing about the bats because when they matched the genetic code of the virus, the results indicated it was a similar composition to the other viruses that spread through bats.
Currently the situation is such that, more about 5974 people have been infected with this virus and more than 100 fatalities have been reported in less than two weeks, which increases the fatality rate to around 2.5%. Now, as compared to Ebola and SARS and MERS, the fatality is comparatively low. However, this does not stop the government and WHO to stop worrying about the increasing infection count not only in China but globally. Other countries have also reported cases of this Virus. These includes 14 confirmed cases in Thailand, 8 in Hong Kong, 8 in Macau, 7 in Singapore and 5 cases in the US, Australia and Taiwan. Government and health officials in Germany, Nepal, Canada, Vietnam, France, South Korea, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Japan have also reported patients testing positive for the virus. This Coronavirus infection should be taken seriously as it can or has infected more people than the other Coronavirus outbreaks; SARS infected 8,096 and MERS infected 2,494.
We keep talking about this Coronavirus but do we actually understand what it is? Let’s understand what it means. These viruses are the largest of the RNA viruses and cause infections in animals, birds as well as humans.
In simple words, the virus binds to the cell and enters it. The cell it enters is called the host cell. The virus now synthesises its own RNA and proteins by hijacking the cell’s machinery. New virions are formed inside the host cells and are released outside. This cycle continues as the viral cell count keeps increasing severely debilitating the person’s immune system.
Very less information is known about the Wuhan virus as it is a new one. Scientists are constantly trying to develop a cure and decipher more information about the virus so that it can be controlled. The cure might take months or even years. What makes it a harder to control is its ability to infect other people during incubation periods. What does this term ” incubation period” mean? It means the time the period between exposure to an infection and the appearance of the first symptoms. So when the patient starts showing symptoms he or she becomes infectious. In Wuhan’s case, the patient doesn’t have to show symptoms to become infectious, he/she already is with the virus incubating inside them. This makes it difficult for the doctors and healthcare specialists to isolate the suspects.
Currently with no cure and less information, what can we as common people do to take precautions? Most importantly, we can avoid going to crowded places and wear masks all the time. As it is specified by the Ministry of Health in Singapore, the type of masks you should be wearing are ‘Surgical masks”. The other type of masks called the N95 masks (more commonly used) will not protect you from infection; N95 masks are for protection from dust and not larger droplets of sneeze and cough containing the virus.
Always keep your hands sanitised and avoid touching your face with dirty hands. Stay away from people who are showing the signs of a flu (coughing, fever, cold and sneezing). More severe symptoms includes pneumonia which is harder to cure. To keep your immune system boosted, eat healthy food, more veggies (thoroughly washed), properly cooked meat products, Vitamin C enhanced products like juices and citrus fruits. Staying hydrated at all times is very crucial. I hope the world gets through this. Please take plenty of precautions. Let’s stay fighting!
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