What to Know About The Coronavirus

 * Information up-to-date as of Feb. 12

Cameron McPhail
Senior Staff Photographer
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What is it?

According to the Centers for Disease Control, (CDC) the2019-nCoV, better known as the Coronavirus, “had some link to a large seafood and animal market, suggesting animal-to-person spread.” This means that scientists believe this new virus was normally infecting an unknown animal species (like a cold infects us humans) but had a mutation in its genetic code that allowed it to infect people instead.


Should I be concerned about catching the virus?


At the moment, you don’t need to be worried about catching the Coronavirus. In a current CDC risk assessment, the organization states that “For the general American public, who are unlikely to be exposed to this virus, the immediate health risk from 2019-nCoV is considered low.” With only thirteen cases in the U.S., and all of them from recent travelers from China, the disease is not spreading in America.


So why is it a big deal?


Scientists and public health professionals are keeping a close watch on the Coronavirus because it is an unknown pathogen and related to other outbreak-causing viruses we have grappled with in the past. The virus is so new that public health workers do not know how easily it spreads or how dangerous it is to humans.Additionally, we do not have resistance or a vaccine for this disease like we do with others. A Coronavirus is actually a name for the family of viruses including SARS (Sudden Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome). These two have caused international concern in the past, so scientists believe new cousin, 2019 n-CoV could act similarly.


Did UAB have a case of the Coronavirus?


UAB did not have a case of the Coronavirus. In a press statementon Jan. 31,Wesley Willeford, M.D., medical director of Disease Control with the Jefferson County Department of Healthstates, “So far, no, we have not had anyone fit the case definition in Alabama.” This is an example of how quickly rumors can spread about disease. Always double check news about outbreaks,wheremedia can exaggerate to attract readers and facts can easily be distorted out of fear.


What should you do now?


To stop the spread of respiratory illness, the World Health Organization recommends regularly washing hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer. It is also important to cough or sneeze into one’s elbow or a tissue, so you do not spread respiratory diseases like a cold. As UAB Student Health and Wellness says every year, if you are sick, stay home. These are good practices to stay healthy aside from the coronavirus; no one wants to miss class or an examregardless of the sickness.


The 2019-2020 Flu Season


If you have been keeping up with the outbreak, you may have noticed a common talking point about the current flu season. News reports often cite that it has caused many more hospitalizations and deaths than the Coronavirus. Is this true? The CDC, which collects reports of disease incidence, has found at least 19 million influenza cases and 10,000 deaths this season, as opposed to the 14,500 Coronavirus cases. So yes, the flu presents a much higher risk to Americans than the new virus. UAB infectious disease physician, Jeanne Marrazzo, M.D., highlights that the strain this year is especially dangerous for younger children. As our community is closely tied to Children’s Hospital of Alabama, it is much more important to get a flu vaccine than worry about the coronavirus.

corona virus infographicInfographic by Juhee Agrawal, Contributing Staff Reporter





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