February 3, 2020 5:15 PM EDT Community Update

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27 Mar 2020

Coronavirus – Everything You Need to Know and Then Some
by Hylton I. Lightman, MD, DCH (SA), FAAP

Nowadays, it would be difficult to find someone who has not heard about the coronavirus. Loads of information and misinformation is swarming about as scientists across the globe grapple with how to deal with and arrest it. Here is your guide to what you need to know.

The new coronavirus, which is also known as 2019-nCoV, is an upper respiratory virus that has grabbed headlines globally for its virulence, lethalness and fast-spreading pace. Its symptoms typically include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Rooted in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, the virus has spread to more than 17,300 people in 24 countries across the world. As of this writing, there are eleven confirmed cases in the United States.

The novel coronavirus or 2019-nCoV has been categorized by WHO (World Health Organization) as a pandemic — a new disease strain spreads beyond a local epidemic into a large regional or worldwide event. Examples of 21st century pandemics include SARS, H1N1 and MERS.

How did 2019-nCoV come to be?

Scientists believe the genome sequence of 2019-nCoV were 96% identical to coronaviruses found in bats. In other words, bats are the likely hosts of the disease. Interestingly, it is supposed that SARS developed from bats, although it spread to civet cats before infecting humans during the 2003 outbreak. Most of the initial cases occurred in people who worked at or visited the Huanan seafood market in Wuhan, China, where a variety of wild animals were sold.

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