Coronavirus: Superbug FAQ About This Respiratory Virus

So far, over 75,100 people in 25 countries have contracted the novel coronavirus, coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) [1]. Over 2,000 have died. Cruise ships have been quarantined, and flight bans have been enacted in hopes of stopping the spread of coronavirus infection. Still, over 300 cases of this superbug have popped up in the United States. What are coronavirus symptoms, and how does it compare to other coronaviruses, such as the MERS virus? Here’s everything you need to know about the latest human coronavirus.

What is Coronavirus?

The term “coronavirus” might be a new one for you. However, you’re a lot more familiar with it than you realize. Seven known coronaviruses can cause a respiratory virus in humans. In fact, four of these seven are some of the 200-plus viruses that may cause the common cold [2].

One analysis about the coronavirus outbreak stated,

“Human coronaviruses probably account for 5 to 10 percent of all acute upper respiratory tract infections in adults, with outbreaks during which 25 to 35 percent of respiratory infections can be attributed to a single species [3].”

Kenneth McIntosh, MD

You’ve probably even heard about coronavirus infection on the news in the past. They were just viral infections that went by different names.

coronavirus
Many precautions are being
taken to prevent coronavirus

Most notably, there was the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS coronavirus) outbreak of 2003.

The latest respiratory virus is generically called “the coronavirus” by news outlets. Newscasters are just simplifying a rather complex explanation that we’re about to get into.

When they say, “the coronavirus,” anchors are referring to the latest of many viruses that share similar qualities. So close, that the latest human coronavirus has 96% the same RNA as past coronoavirus outbreaks. The genetic makeup for each respiratory virus is just different enough to make them impossible to treat with another coronavirus vaccine.

Types of Coronavirus

A respiratory virus classified as a coronavirus has the longest genome of any RNA virus. It consists of over 30,000 letters in its genetic makeup.

Each coronavirus consists of four primary parts:

coronavirus spike proteins
Essentially spike proteins pierce the envelope and latch onto membrane receptors.
  • Nucleocapsid – Protein That Makes Virus Shell
  • Envelope – Combo of Viral Glycoproteins and Host Proteins That Envelope Nucleocapsid
  • Membrane- Infected Cell
  • Spike – Crown-Shaped Proteins Attach to Infected Cell

The crown-shaped proteins are a distinct characteristic of the coronavirus. In fact, the protein’s resemblance to royalty headwear is how this virus got the “corona” name.

There are eight known coronaviruses that can cause a coronavirus infection in humans:

  • Human Coronavirus 229E
  • Human Coronavirus NL63
  • Human Coronavirus OC43
  • Human Coronavirus HKU1
  • Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-Related Coronavirus (MERS-CoV, or MERS Virus)
  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV, or SARS Coronavirus)
  • Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

The first four a pretty common. Normal flu-like coronavirus symptoms in humans occur and our immune systems and medications help fight them off. However, some of these can mutate into more resistant viruses. That’s the case with the last three.

The MERS virus evolved from MERS-CoV. This superbug has claimed almost 3,000 lives to date. [4]. Meanwhile, SARS was a superbug that developed from SARS-CoV. As we now know, COVID-19 came from SARS-CoV-2 [5].

What is the Novel Coronavirus?

coronavirus prevention
Novel coronavirus got an unwatnted upgrade this year

The latest superbug was detected in Wuhan, China by Dr. Liu Zhiming. He has since unfortunately passed away from a coronavirus infection.

Initially, this was named Novel Coronavirus 2019 (nCoV-2019). Once scientists were able to trace the RNA sequence back to past pandemics, like the SARS virus, it became an official coronavirus.

Human coronavirus can take anywhere from 2 to 14 days to develop signs of coronavirus. Currently, there is no coronavirus vaccine for this novel coronavirus.

Novel Coronavirus Symptoms

Coronavirus symptoms in humans are similar to that of a common cold or influenza [7].

Signs of coronavirus include:

coronavirus symptoms in humans
Typical flu symptoms appear in
coronavirus patients
  • Cough
  • Sore Throat
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Body Pains
  • Temperature Changes
  • Headache
  • Runny Nose

Depending on how strong your immune system is, you may feel worse coronavirus symptoms.

Severe coronavirus symptoms in humans include:

  • Chest Pain/Tightness
  • Mucous Formation
  • Trouble Breathing
  • Fever
  • Pneumonia

Many of these symptoms overlap with other respiratory virus signs. For instance, you might think you are showing coronavirus symptoms but really have a case of parainfluenza or RSV. If you believe you have coronavirus, it’s imperative you seek medical help immediately.

How Did We Get Coronavirus in the First Place?

Most viruses come from animals. As humans, our immune system anticipates viral infections. Therefore, the immune system produces antibodies that allow us to feel mild symptoms or none at all. When we cause new pathogens to enter our system, that’s where things can go wrong.

Human coronavirus from animals
Chart of past viral infections from animals to humans

There are many microbes that humans and animals pass back and forth that are unique to that particular mammal. Most of the time, these interactions cause no issues. In fact, having pets can improve your gut health.

Unfortunately, there are times where viruses win. Humans can develop a really contagious condition, such as Respiratory Syntactical Virus (RSV). Painful and annoying, yes. However, RSV can be a bit more manageable than other conditions. Then there are worst-case scenarios. That’s when cases like the MERS virus and SARS coronavirus hit.

Animal to Human Coronavirus Infection

The origins of these viruses came from bats. In fact, many viral outbreaks start with bats infecting other animals that, in turn, contaminated us. We can confirm that with the MERS virus and SARS coronavirus. Whereas, the jury is still out with Ebola.

bats coronavirus outbreak
Bats are believed to be behind
many viral infections

Past instances of animal to human coronavirus include:

  • SARS Coronavirus: Asian Palm Civet
  • Ebola: Bats to Gorillas and Chimpanzees
  • Nipah: Pigs
  • Hendra: Horses
  • Marburg: African Green Monkeys

While the average person doesn’t interact with these animals, that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. Scarily, there also been cases of coronavirus cats in the past, too.

Unfortunately, this virus also gets spread from human-to-human. We’ll get to that in a bit, but first, let’s discuss how the coronavirus causes a respiratory virus.

How Does Coronavirus Cause Illness?

parainfluenza
A flu virus in action

Like all viral infections, coronaviruses reproduce within healthy cells. They infect the cytoplasm. Cytoplasm is a fluid-like substance that gives the cell structure and protects the nucleus.

Inevitably, the virus takes over the cytoplasm, causing the cell to act irregularly. When this happens, it causes coronavirus symptoms in humans that are similar to any other respiratory virus. However, there is no known coronavirus vaccine for the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. So, this may post long-term problems.

Our immune system does not take kindly to intruders. It sparks inflammation, which causes even more distress throughout the system. In fact, studies even confirm this fear in cases of coronavirus infection.

A recent study was conducted with bats confirmed,

“Some bats — including those known to be the original source of human infections — have been shown to host immune systems that are perpetually primed to mount defenses against viruses. Viral infection in these bats leads to a swift response that walls the virus out of cells. While this may protect the bats from getting infected with high viral loads, it encourages these viruses to reproduce more quickly within a host before a defense can be mounted [6].”

Science Daily

Bats have an extremely high metabolic rate. That’s because they’re busy flying at fast paces. Scientists reason that’s why they’re the common facilitator of a viral mutation. With that said, it also shows how smart and intricate a virus can be, and why it’s so hard to create a coronavirus vaccine.

How to Get Human Coronavirus?

The most common transmission of the coronavirus is through humans. It’s passed through the air, our pores, and human contact.

people kissing
Swapping coronavirus?

You can get human coronavirus from:

  • Touching Unwashed Surfaces
  • Breathing Air Infected By Sneezing and Coughing
  • Kissing, Hugging, and Other Intimate Contact
  • Contact with Feces

Much like parainfluenza and the cold, you are more likely to contract the novel coronavirus during the winter. Many hypothesize it’s because many of us stay indoors and in tight quarters during this time of the year.

Not to mention, viruses enjoy the colder weather. We’re warm-blooded creatures. So, having lower temperatures enable them to find the balance necessary to thrive [8]. Plus, they have their envelope to keep them warm!

What to Do If You Show Signs of Coronavirus?

Getting help for coronavirus symptoms should be done immediately, especially if you recently traveled. Signs of coronavirus will get worse, and the respiratory virus will become highly contagious.

coronavirus infection
Take precaution and being proactive

Left untreated, you run the risk of this developing into a fatal respiratory virus. Not to mention, your symptoms may spread the disease to someone with a compromised immune system. They might die, too. So, please don’t take coronavirus symptoms lightly.

Go to your doctor. Share your coronavirus symptoms and discuss your medical history. From there, they may choose to take blood and run some lab tests.

In the meantime, you should take over-the-counter medications to treat the coronavirus symptoms, such as headaches and body pain. There is no current novel coronavirus vaccine. So, you need to rest up and allow your body to heal.

Am I At High Risk for Coronavirus?

A respiratory virus is a reason to be on alert. However, you shouldn’t go into deep panic mode just yet. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) came up with a chart to determine the risk factor of contracting human coronavirus [9].

You have a high-risk of coronavirus infection if you:

  • Live with Someone Who Has the Novel Coronavirus
  • Intimate Partner or Friend with Someone Who Has Human Coronavirus
  • Recently Traveled from Hubei Province, China

Medium risks of developing coronavirus symptoms include:

  • Close Contact with Someone Who Has COVID-19, Without Touch
  • Sitting Within 2 Seats in Any Direction of a Person with Human Coronavirus on a Plane
  • Living With Someone Who Has the Novel Coronavirus, But Using Sanitary Precautions
  • Travel from mainland China outside Hubei Province

Low risks of showing coronavirus symptoms in humans include:

  • Being in Same Room as Someone with Human Coronavirus, But No Contact
  • On a Plane with Over Two Rows Difference from Person with Respiratory Virus

No matter where you are on this list, there’s no harm in going to a doctor. If you think there’s a gray area, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

How to Prevent Coronavirus

There is no novel coronavirus vaccine. So, we must be vigilant in preventative care. Take many of the same precautions you would during flu season.

Try to fight coronavirus symptoms by:

Stay here until you’re better
  • Covering Mouth When Coughing and Sneezing
  • Disinfecting Surfaces
  • Washing Hands Regularly
  • Delaying Travel Until Spring
  • Taking Probiotics to Support Immune System
  • Visiting a Doctor
  • Re-booking Your Cruise
  • Throw Away Tissues
  • Clean Your Trash Can
  • Stay at Home When Sick
  • Avoid Close Contact with Others if Showing Coronavirus Symptoms

If you live in an area where coronavirus has been detected, try laying low. While early, there are signs of the respiratory virus slowing down in China [10]. Plus, viruses aren’t a fan of the spring. So, if everyone takes precaution, we can hopefully curb the casualties.

What Happens If You Have Coronavirus?

coronavirus quarantine
Quarantine may be a reality

The human coronavirus is highly contagious. Many people who have traveled abroad to China or been on cruises have faced quarantine. It can take up to two weeks to be released. That’s because symptoms can take up to 14 days to manifest.

If you bounce back from flu-like symptoms sooner, you may be released. It’s all dependent on the case and the professional opinion of a medical specialist.

Will There Be a Coronavirus Vaccine?

Scientists are scrambling to find a coronavirus vaccine. Unfortunately, they’ve come up short so far. However, there is a lot of hope.

As we mentioned, this human coronavirus is the virus with the longest RNA sequence. That means there’s room for a lot of errors in the genetic code. We need to find that mistake. Then the scientists can finally find the novel coronavirus vaccine.

Thryve Probiotics Gut Health

Resources

[1] “Coronavirus Live Updates: Disease Roughly 20 Times Deadlier Than Seasonal Flu.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 18 Feb. 2020, www.nytimes.com/2020/02/18/world/asia/china-coronavirus.html.

[2] “Coronavirus.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 15 Feb. 2020, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/coronavirus/symptoms-causes/syc-20479963?page=0&citems=10.

[3] McIntosh, MD, Kenneth. “Coronaviruses.” UpToDate, 18 Feb. 2020, www.uptodate.com/contents/coronaviruses.

[4] “Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV).” World Health Organization, World Health Organization, 23 Jan. 2020, www.who.int/emergencies/mers-cov/en/.

[5] “CDC Grows SARS-CoV-2, the Virus That Causes COVID-19, in Cell Culture.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 15 Feb. 2020, www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/grows-virus-cell-culture.html.

[6] University of California – Berkeley. “Coronavirus Outbreak Raises Question: Why Are Bat Viruses so Deadly?” ScienceDaily, ScienceDaily, 10 Feb. 2020, www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/02/200210144854.htm.

[7] “Coronavirus Infections | Coronavirus.” MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 18 Feb. 2020, medlineplus.gov/coronavirusinfections.html.

[8] Larson, Jennifer. “Why Flu Season Spikes in the Fall and Winter.” Insider, Insider, 22 Nov. 2019, www.insider.com/when-is-flu-season.

[9] “Interim US Guidance for Risk Assessment and Public Health Management of Persons with Potential Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Exposure in Travel-Associated or Community Settings.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 11 Feb. 2020, www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/php/risk-assessment.html.

[10] Stankiewicz, Kevin. “It’s Too Early to Tell Whether the Coronavirus Is Actually Slowing in China, NIH Doctor Says.” CNBC, CNBC, 18 Feb. 2020, www.cnbc.com/2020/02/18/it-is-too-early-to-say-if-coronavirus-is-slowing-in-china-nih-doctor.html.