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A new disease named coronavirus was first identified in Wuhan, China, in December 2019, and now called COVID-19. It continues to spread, primarily in China but cases have also occurred in some two dozen other countries.

The explosion is affected by a coronavirus. Common human coronaviruses effect mild to moderate upper respiratory symptoms, comprising the common cold, while more severe types can affect pneumonia and death. The name for this kind of virus comes from the crownlike spears it has on its covering — “corona” is Latin for “crown.”

This distress of the virus was originally called 2019-nCoV for now, which is short for “2019 novel coronavirus.” The World Health Organization provided an official name to the disease it causes: COVID-19. It’s only the third distress of coronavirus known to frequently effect serious symptoms in humans. The other two are MERS and SARS.

Where did it come from?

Coronaviruses originate in animals — like camels, civets, and bats and are usually not transmittable to humans. But sometimes a coronavirus mutates and can depart from animals to humans and then from human to human. It was similar to the case with the SARS inflammation in the early 2000s. China’s National Health Commission announced that 15 health care workers have evolved infected, demonstrating that the virus can circulate from human to human.

Most of the first known cases in December 2019 were searched for an animal market in the Chinese city of Wuhan. It is believed to have reached from contact with live animals that were infected. The market has since been shut down. Wuhan is a main logistics and transportation hub. It lies approximately 500 miles west of Shanghai and is residence to more than 11 million people.

What are the symptoms? What does this illness feel like?

Early symptoms include fever and dry cough. Some people also experience fatigue, headaches and, less frequently, diarrhea. Shortness of breath can develop about 5 days in.

About 80 percent of cases so far seem to be mild, according to the World Health Organization. “Mild” seems to run the gamut from cold-like symptoms to that flu-like feeling of being hit by a train. Doctors say that patients with this range of symptoms should rest and drink plenty of fluids and self-isolate to avoid infecting others but don’t necessarily require hospitalization.

They should, however, make sure to check in with their doctor, especially if they take a turn for the worse. About 20 percent of cases are more severe and require hospitalization. Symptoms in severe cases include pneumonia (which makes it harder to breathe) and kidney failure. The disease can be fatal.

Should someone with a fever be probed for Wuhan coronavirus?

The symptoms of this infection might appear the same as those for a cold or flu, but at this time the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines for health care providers suggest screening only people who have recently traveled to Wuhan or who have had close prolonged contact with an infected person. The CDC can verify the virus with a diagnostic test that is formulated based on the hereditary sequence of the virus that Chinese health officials obtained and made publicly available.

Who is at risk of becoming infected?

The World Health Organization’s Emergency Committee on the coronavirus said in the news conference that almost three-quarters of cases have been in people over age 40 and that “cases who died — many had substantial underlying conditions” like cardiovascular disorder and diabetes. But there are confirmed cases in otherwise healthy, young individuals.

What treatments are recommended for this virus?

There are no virus-specific treatments for COVID-19. The CDC suggests supportive care to manage and relieve symptoms. Researchers are experimenting with existing antiviral drugs to discern if they have an effect on this new coronavirus. There is no approved vaccine accessible for this virus.

What are the affected countries and regions?

To date, at least 20 countries or places have confirmed cases. At least 430 other cases have been identified in places outside China, including the U.S., Australia, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, Malaysia, Nepal, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Fifteen U.S. cases have been reported to date. The first U.S. case was reported on Jan. 21, in a man who traveled to China and began experiencing symptoms a few days after returning home to Seattle on Jan. 15. The second case, a woman in Chicago, was confirmed Jan. 24. The sixth confirmed case, reported at the end of January, marked the first instance of human-to-human transmission of the disease in the U.S.; a woman who had recently toured to China circulate the virus to her husband when she returned to Chicago.

How does it spread?

Health officials believe the virus can be transmitted from person to person via trade of fluids from the respiratory tract. However, they still don’t know exactly how. The respiratory path seems likely because groups of cases have been identified within families, whose members have had extended close contact with an infected person. There is emerging information in Wuhan that the virus can dissipate from one person to another multiple time. It is similar to the way that a disease like the flu spreads. That’s something that global health officials are attending to in international cases.

How serious is this?

This virus is highly infectious. But the agency does not consider the infection to be as infectious as the one that affected the SARS outbreak in 2003. The risk to the general American public is less. Most cases have been found in China, and so far worldwide spread appears limited.

What is being done to contain the spread of the outbreak?

Government officials in China have temporarily shut down transportation to and from Wuhan by bus, tunnel, ferry, airplane, and train. The travel prohibition came just days before the biggest holiday on the Chinese calendar: Lunar New Year. Hundreds of millions of people travel every year during this holiday season.

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