Written by: Michelle McConnell, NMD
It’s hard not to be worried with all the new media circulating about the Novel Coronavirus. We want to give you some information about this virus and how it compares to other well known viruses so you can make healthy decisions to stay well. There are also ways you can help your own body be its best in order to survive this winter without catching any of the problematic bugs that make us sick. We often say here at Live Well, it’s not about the bug, really, it’s about the terrain (body and immune system). How healthy is your terrain?
The family of coronaviruses were first discovered in the 1960’s in chickens. There are seven strains that infect humans and they are thought to be a significant percentage of the common colds every year. There are strains that only infect animals as well. If you fully vaccinate your pet you will notice that one of the vaccinations is for the coronavirus. We have known about the coronavirus for a while now but the difference this year is there is a new strain and it is very infectious.
Historically, pandemics are scary because these events have killed vast populations very quickly. A pandemic is the widespread occurrence of an infectious disease in a community at a particular time that crosses into another continent or can even be worldwide. There are three ways a virus is evaluated as an impact to human health. A virus is measured for its speed at which it spreads in a population called its R0 (“R-naught”), the ability for a virus to survive in the environment to infect others, and the severity of disease. Let’s compare the novel coronavirus to other well known annual viruses as well as those that have been deemed a threat to the community.
The R0 for the Flu is somewhere around 1.3-2 for comparison. This means that if you are sick you have the ability to pass the flu onto 1.3 -2 other people. The well known SARS or swine flu was much more contagious at an R0 of 2-4. Novel coronavirus falls about an R0 of 2-4 so this makes it more easily spread throughout populations which to medical professionals can be scary.
A good analogy to understand when the medical community identifies a new virus is when a region is told there is going to be a big storm coming. We know it is going to hit a community but we cannot say for sure how bad it will be. The best plan of action is to be prepared and be careful, limit travel and take precaution. This applies to anything seen as a new disease such as a virus. It is new, there is no vaccination for it, it may spread fast so if we don’t get the word out it could be bad. On the other hand, it could be just another cold or flu type bug as well.
The media tends to really drive home the fear but for the most part this has not been very different from some of the other smaller outbreaks. So far the Novel Coronavirus has about the same statistics as SARS with less deadly consequences.
The symptoms to look out for are much like a severe flu.
According to The Lancet, out of 41 patients in a study, all of them developed pneumonia, three quarters had a cough and more than half had breathing difficulties. According to the CDC situation report as of February 3rd there are 17,391 cases worldwide, 2296 severe cases, and 361 deaths.. In the US there are 11 confirmed cases with one identified in Arizona. This was an ASU student that had recently traveled to the point of origin, in Wuhan City, China. These statistics are slightly higher than the flu statistics. As a comparison the flu kills 290,000 to 650,000 per year worldwide and has a mortality rate of 2%. The coronavirus currently is at 2% as well.
So should you panic? Keeping the facts in perspective is important. Yes, this virus is unpleasant, yes it moves fast and yes it can kill. However, looking at the facts compared to the flu; it moves faster but still has the same mortality rate as the flu. It is also important to remember the situation is new and can change at anytime.
Learn how you can best prepare yourself for any season of sickness. Learn what to always have in the home and what information you can count on to help prevent getting sick.