New Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Coronaviruses contain crown-like spikes on their surface, hence their name. There are four main sub-groupings of coronaviruses. They have been named as alpha, beta, gamma, and delta.
Most commonly Minks and Ferrets can be infected with a Coronavirus. They are generally not a threat to humans. However, some coronaviruses that infect animals can mutate and evolve which makes them a risk to the human population. Three recent examples: COVID-19, SARS-CoV, and MERS-CoV.
In Winsonsin Minnesota in 1998 a coronavirus (CoV) previously shown to be associated with catarrhal gastroenteritis in mink was identified by electron microscopy in mink faeces. A pan-coronavirus and a genus-specific RT-PCR assay were used initially to demonstrate that the newly discovered mink MCoV’s were part of the genus Alphacoronavirus. Additionally, the new MCoV’s appeared to be phylogenetically distant from human (229E and NL63) and other alphacoronaviruses and did not belong to the species Alphacoronavirus 1. It is proposed that they form a new species within the genus Alphacoronavirus (PMCID: PMC3168282).
Commonly ferrets can be infected with an enteric alphacoronavirus that is seen as similar to the viruses that are found in mink, but they present distinct characteristics from the related viruses of pigs, cats, and dogs. Scientists have researched these viruses found in ferrets and indicate that apart from benign gastrointestinal infection, a more serious epizootic catarrhal enteritis, or “green slime” disease, as well as a systemic disease may occur. Despite of the scientific effort the aetiology of the coronavirus remains unclear (https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/biochemistry-genetics-and-molecular-biology/mustela-putorius-furo).
Human coronaviruses were first identified in the mid-1960s. The seven coronaviruses that can infect people are:
Common human coronaviruses
1. 229E (alpha coronavirus)
2. NL63 (alpha coronavirus)
3. OC43 (beta coronavirus)
4. HKU1 (beta coronavirus)
Other human coronaviruses
5. MERS-CoV (the beta coronavirus that causes Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS)
6. SARS-CoV (the beta coronavirus that causes severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS)
7. 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)
2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) – On January 9, 2020, the World Health Organization reported that a novel (new) coronavirus was identified by Chinese authorities. Allegedly the authorities around the world knew about this new threat as early as December 2019. The virus is associated with an outbreak of pneumonia in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China.
SARS-CoV – Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) was first isolated in China in November 2002. It caused a worldwide outbreak infecting around 8,098 individuals and caused 774 deaths. Thanks to worldwide actions since 2004, there have not been any known cases of SARS-CoV infection reported anywhere in the world.
MERS-CoV – Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) was first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012. It has since caused illness in people from dozens of other countries. All cases to date have been linked to countries in or near the Arabian Peninsula. Continues closely monitor this kind of virus globally and work with partners to better understand the risks because very little is known about the source, how it spreads, and how infections might be prevented (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/types.html).
In most cases humans around the world can easily and commonly get infected with coronaviruses 229E, NL63, OC43, and HKU1. Symptoms of the virus may include fever, headache, runny nose, cough and difficulty breathing. Doctors say that symptoms of the new 2019 Wuhan coronavirus may also include common symptoms of influenza.
Coronaviruses can be seen as responsible for causing a common cold in humans worldwide. Depending on the studies, up to 20% of tests in humans with respiratory illness yielded evidence of infection with coronaviruses. HCoV-229E was first isolated in 1967 and resembles only 65% nucleotide similarity with the other human alphacoronavirus, the HCoV-NL63. For the first time the HCoV-NL63 was isolated in 2003 from a 7-months-old child suffering from bronchiolitis and conjunctivitis. HCoV-OC43 is known in the scientific society since 1960’s. However, the HCoV-HKU1 was discovered only in 2005 in a elderly man with pneumonia treated in Hong Kong.
Although the majority of infections with HCoVs can only cause mild respiratory tract problems, all HCoVs also take form of induced fulminant, especially in immunosuppressed patients and infants. All endemic CoV’s can be found in the respiratory tract but are also detected in stool samples. Despite of the fact that coronaviruses in animals are known for decades, still little is known about their etiology and the threat they might pose to humans. Some viruses (HCoV-OC43) are suspected to play a role in neurological diseases (https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/alphacoronavirus).
There is no cure or vaccine known to man that would make humans immune to Coronaviruses. SARS Coronavirus was identified in 2002 and still to this day we do not have any cure to fight the virus. This could also be the case when it comes to the new Coronavirus detected in December 2019 In Wuhan, China. We might have to wait months or even years before some sort of medicine is developed.
We know the coronavirus is airborne, and that it can be transmitted between people. Researchers believe that the virus may have made the jump from animals to people via the inhalation of airborne particles.
There are two main types of face masks that are used to partially protect the person wearing them. One type is a surgical mask worn by doctors during surgical procedures. These masks are designed to block liquid droplets, however they are not designed to offer full protection against airborne viruses due to the fact that they do not completely seal off the nose and mouth area. We do not know if the new Coronavirus (COVID-19) is able to infect humans by making contact with the eyes. And the facemasks don’t protect our eyes. Conventional face masks might help, but it’s not certain if they will give you total protection, says Mark Woolhouse at the University of Edinburgh, UK
Therefore it is important to take steps to protect yourself from any form of infections. Wear a face mask. Avoid large gatherings of people, be cautious in your workplace or in school. Take care while traveling on public transport. Avoid touching your face, mouth or nose without making sure that your hands are clean.
If you are worried about the symptoms you might have, before going to the hospital, contact your local authority or healthcare provider for advice.
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