Coronavirus is all over the news now. No matter which country you live in, coronavirus is pretty much making headlines there.
The recent outbreak of coronavirus has caused some serious concerns all over the world. So, we thought it might be prudent to give you some knowledge of coronavirus.
In this article on coronavirus facts, we will see what it is and what happens when someone is infected with the virus.
This coronavirus facts sheet will try to cover as much information as possible in easy-to-understand language and ensure that you are not bogged down by the technicalities and jargon that usually come with diseases.
Thus, if you want a good read and garner some vital information, here is your scope. Roll up your sleeves, grab a cup of coffee or tea or your favorite drink (Red Bull will do) and read on…
1. Coronavirus is not a single virus. It refers to a group of viruses.
2. These viruses are known for affecting mammals and birds.
3. Yes, coronavirus affects humans, dogs, cats and all other mammals.
4. Humans infected with coronavirus can get respiratory infections which are usually mild. Those infections can include even common cold.
5. That doesn’t mean coronavirus is harmless. There are rarer respiratory infections caused by coronavirus in humans that can turn out to be lethal.
6. The rare and lethal respiratory infections include SARS-CoV or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome and MERS-CoV or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome.
7. CoV stands for? You guessed it right – Coronavirus!
8. The new outbreak of 2020 is caused by a new strain that had previously not infected humans. It is known as 2019-nCov or 2019 Novel Coronavirus. The outbreak started from Wuhan, China.
9. In other mammals like pigs and cows, coronavirus can cause diarrhea.
10. In birds like chicken, coronavirus can lead to an upper respiratory disease.
11. Until the recent outbreak of 2019-nCoV, it was believed that coronaviruses are zoonotic. What does that mean? It means that the viruses are transmitted from animals to humans.
12. For instance, the SARS-CoV was first transmitted to humans from civet cats. The MERS-CoV was first transmitted to humans from dromedary camels.
13. The recent outbreak of 2019-nCoV started the same way. The first person who was infected and then some subsequent human patients were found to have links to a large animal and seafood market, thereby proving the zoonotic nature of the viruses.
14. Unfortunately, it was later found that a large number of people who were infected at a later stage had absolutely no exposure to any animal market. This means that virus is spreading person-to-person.
15. Despite the initial findings, it is difficult to say how easily this person-to-person spreading is happening because the outbreak is fresh and medical fraternity worldwide is not yet prepared to deal with this new strain.
16. There is no known antiviral drug or any vaccine that has been approved for treatment or prevention of coronaviruses.
17. The order in which the coronaviruses belong to is Nidovirales.
18. Coronaviruses all belong to the family Coronaviridae.
19. They belong to the subfamily Orthocoronavirinae.
20. All coronaviruses are enveloped viruses. What is that? Well, in case you didn’t know, in general a virus has a protective protein capsid (capsid is the protein shell of a virus) that covers the genome of the virus. In case of enveloped viruses, the protective protein capsid in turn has viral envelope that covers the protective protein capsid.
21. The coronaviruses have a positive-sense single-stranded RNA genome. And, what on Earth is that? It means that the genetic material of the viruses is made of a single RNA strand which has a positive-sense or positive-polarity. If this is getting confusing, all you need to know for now is that a positive-sense viral RNA is considered as a mRNA or messenger RNA that can be used for direct synthesis of proteins within the host cell. No intermediate RNA is required for that.
22. So, coronaviruses are positive-sense single-stranded RNA viruses.
23. Coronaviruses were first discovered in the 1960s.
24. The earliest one that were discovered was in chickens. It was an infectious bronchitis virus.
25. Around the same time, two more coronaviruses were discovered in humans. They were found in the nasal cavities of patients who were infected with common cold.
26. The first coronavirus found in humans was named as ‘human coronavirus 229E.’ The second coronavirus found in humans was named as ‘human coronavirus OC43.’
27. Over time 5 other coronaviruses have been identified in humans. The list includes:
(a) 2003: SARS-CoV
(b) 2004: HCoV NL63 [human coronavirus NL63]
(c) 2005: HKU1 [human coronavirus HKU1]
(d) 2012: MERS-CoV
(e) 2019: 2019-nCoV
28. Most of the aforementioned coronaviruses in humans led to serious respiratory tract infections.
29. Of the total 7 strains of human coronavirus, the following strains are known to continuously circulate among humans worldwide and affect both children and adults alike:
30. Scientists estimate that the most recent and the common ancestor of all coronaviruses came into existence circa 8000 BCE.
31. Despite this estimate, the scientific community still thinks that the ancestor may be way older. There is another estimate which puts the date to circa 8100 BCE.
32. The most recent common ancestor of Alphacoronavirus, Betacoronavirus, Gammacoronavirus and Deltacoronavirus (all four are genus) are thought to have come into existence circa 2400 BCE, 3300 BCE, 2800 BCE and 3000 BCE respectively.
33. Studies indicate that the warm-blooded flying vertebrates like birds and bats are ideal hosts for the gene source of coronavirus. Most likely they are the ones that fueled the evolution as well as dissemination of the coronavirus.
34. Bats are ideal hosts for Alphacoronavirus and Betacoronavirus.
35. Birds are ideal hosts for Gammacoronavirus and Deltacoronavirus.
36. Divergence of the canine respiratory coronavirus and bovine (relating to cattle) from a common ancestor took place in the year 1951.
37. Divergence of equine (related to the horse family) coronavirus and bovine coronavirus took place towards the end of the 18th century.
38. Divergence of human coronavirus OC43 and bovine coronavirus happened in the year 1899. Some however suggest that this divergence took place in 1890.
39. Studies reveal that divergence of very closely related SARS coronavirus and bat coronavirus took place in 1986.
40. MERS coronavirus, which is related to various bat species, saw a divergence several centuries ago.
41. The most recent common ancestor of human coronavirus OC43 existed during the 1950s.
42. Bat coronavirus and human coronavirus NL63 had a common ancestor anywhere between 563 and 822 years ago.
43. In 1960, the divergence of the human coronavirus 229E and Alpaca coronavirus took place.
45. Because of the genetic makeup of the coronaviruses, the single RNA strand attaches to the ribosome for quick translation.
46. There is particular protein called replicase which is encoded in the genome of the coronaviruses. This particular protein allows the viral RNA genome to use the machinery of the host cell to get transcribed into new copies of the viral RNA.
47. Interesting thing to note that the replicase encoded in the genome of the coronaviruses will only recognize and produce viral RNAs.
48. The viral progeny that are created are then picked up by golgi vesicles and carried all the way to cell membrane.
49. At the cell membrane, exocytosis expels the viral progeny into extracellular space.
50. In birds and mammals, the coronaviruses primarily infects the gastrointestinal track and upper respiratory tract.
51. Coronaviruses are known for causing a wide range of diseases in both domesticated pets as well as farm animals. Some of the diseases can be very serious and pose a great threat to the farming industry as a whole.
52. In chickens, the coronavirus called IBV or Infectious Bronchitis Virus targets both the urogenital and respiratory tracts. This virus has the ability of spreading to different organs of a chicken’s body.
53. The bovine coronavirus and the porcine coronavirus are two economically significant coronaviruses when it comes to farm animals. These viruses are capable of causing diarrhea in young animals.
54. Feline coronavirus has two forms. One form is feline enteric coronavirus, which can mutate to take another form known as feline infectious peritonitis virus.
55. The feline enteric coronavirus has little clinical significance but when it spontaneously mutates to feline infectious peritonitis virus, it can lead to the disease called feline infectious peritonitis. This disease has high mortality rate.
56. Ferrets also have two types of coronaviruses. The first one is ferret enteric coronavirus causing a disease called epizootic catarrhal enteritis. It is a gastrointestinal syndrome.
57. The other form of coronavirus found in ferrets is ferret systemic coronavirus. This version is very lethal.
58. In canines again, there are two types of coronaviruses. One is known for causing mild gastrointestinal disease while the other leads to respiratory disease.
59. MERS or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome first appeared in the year 2012. The outbreak started in Saudi Arabia.
60. From Saudi Arabia, MERS reached several other countries in Middle East, Asia, Europe and Africa.
61. The first American to be hospitalized because of MERS infection returned to USA from Saudi Arabia. The person was hospitalized in Indiana in April 2014.
62. Yet another case was reported in Florida in 2014.
63. Korea was hit by MERS outbreak in May 2015. The Korean outbreak was the largest outbreak to take place outside of the Arabian Peninsula.
64. The outbreak in Korea was caused by a single person who had traveled from Middle East and then went to four different hospitals in Seoul for getting treatment of his illness.
65. By December 2019, total number of people infected by MERS-CoV was 2,468. Of these, 851 died, resulting in the mortality rate of 34.5% approximately.
66. MERS infected 124 people in Saudi Arabia out of which 52 died by October 2013.
67. SARS or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome outbreak that started in 2003 actually started in Asia in 2002. The outbreak happen in 2003 and spread worldwide.
68. Nearly 8,000 people worldwide were infected by SARS out of which 774 people died, creating a mortality rate of nearly 10% in 2003.
69. Since 2004, no further cases of SARS-related infection or deaths have been reported so far.
70. Coronaviruses spread in the same way any other cold viruses spread. General methods of spreading include:
(a) Touching the face or hands of a person infected with coronavirus.
(b) An infected person sneezing our coughing.
(c) By touching things that infected people have touched. For example – doorknobs, books, handheld showers, etc.
71. Nearly every person in this world has been, for at least once throughout their lifetime, infected by a coronavirus. Children and adults get infected alike.
72. There is no specific time for coronavirus infection. It can happen anytime during the year. However, in the USA, the usual time for spreading of coronaviruses is winter and fall.
73. The symptoms caused by a coronavirus infection are very similar to the symptoms of any upper respiratory infection.
74. The common symptoms include sore throat, coughing, runny nose and at times, fever.
75. Usually a person infected with coronavirus will not be able to differentiate whether he or she has been infected by a coronavirus strain or any other cold-causing virus, for instance, rhinovirus.
76. Symptoms of coronavirus infection usually stays only for a few days and goes away on its own. So, there is no reason why you should go for laboratory tests like blood works, throat and nose cultures etc.
77. In case the coronaviruses manage to infect the lower respiratory tract of people (lower respiratory tract includes windpipe and lungs), the risk of contracting pneumonia is high.
78. People who are more vulnerable to contracting pneumonia caused by coronavirus infection are usually people with a weak immune systems, some kind of heart disease or older people.
79. In order to prevent coronavirus infection, all you need to do is that you need to follow what you do for preventing common cold.
80. Make sure that you wash your hands properly using some kind of alcohol-based hand sanitizer or using warm water and soap.
81. Make sure that you do not get into close proximity of people who are infected with coronavirus.
83. There is no vaccine available for coronavirus for humans. So, you need to resort to usual methods of prevention.
84. As far as treatment of coronavirus infection is concerned, you need to know that you need to treat it the same way you treat a common cold. Here are some of the things that you need to do:
(a) Drink plenty of fluids.
(b) Take plenty of rest.
(c) Get some over-the-counter medicines that you usually get for fever and sore throat. Just remember that you should avoid giving aspirin to children or teens below the age of 19. As an alternative, you can make use of acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
(d) In order to get rid of scratchy or sore throat, you can make use of a humidifier or get a steamy shower.
85. The name ‘coronavirus’ is derived from the Greek word κορώνη (which means “garland, wreath”) and the Latin word corona.
86. The meaning of of the term ‘coronavirus’ is halo or crown.
87. The name is derived from the characteristic appearance of the infective form of the viruses (known as virions) when viewed under electron microscope.
88. Under the electron microscope the virions appear to have a frill of large, bulbous surface projections which appear like a solar corona or a royal crown.