The Coronavirus: Human Health Affects Global Health

The Coronavirus: Human Health Affects Global Health

What:

  • A new strain of coronavirus (2019-nCoV) has been traced to Wuhan, China and allegedly to an open-air live market where both live and dead animals are held and processed for sale to customers.
  • The new strain is similar to that of the Sars (Sudden Acute Respiratory Syndrome) outbreak in the early 2000s. The common cold is also considered a coronavirus.

Who:

  • Experts: The World Health Organization (also a WHO) has declined to designate the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, China an “international emergency” due to the low number of overseas confirmed cases, though it may change the designation
  • Victims: At least 18 individuals have died at the time of writing and more than 600 confirmed cases.
  • Government: The Chinese government has quarantined the city of Wuhan and has placed travel and gathering restrictions upon the whole country as the Lunar New Year gets closer in China in a bid to lower contamination risks

When:

  • The outbreak can be traced in origin back to the end of December in Wuhan
  • Incubation for the virus--the time from exposure to symptoms-- can take up to two weeks, making identification and early diagnosis difficult for health officials
  • The first case in the United States was recorded on January 21, 2020 in Washington state--the man is being monitored by health officials currently

Why:

  • Open air live markets are highly illegal for exactly this reason. The cross-contamination of live animals and their dead counterparts lead to higher chances of disease in the animals themselves and the humans interacting and consuming them
  • How the virus is spreading from human to human is unclear, but the CDC (Center for Disease Control) in the United States is advising surgical masks be worn to prevent airborne pathogens from entering human respiratory tracts

How does this affect us?

 

Disease outbreak can often lead to panic and alarmist rhetoric in its worst cases, and improved safety and health measures in its best cases. It is important to understand that though this virus has originated in a Chinese market it also has confirmed cases in the US, Thailand, South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan. We generally write about steps you can take to improve the health of the planet, but we felt this was an instance to discuss the health of the global population. The World Health Organization (WHO) advises avoiding close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness, coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and sneezing. Washington state health secretary, Dr. John Wiesman advises to take precautionary measures similar to those you’d normally take during cold and flu season, like washing your hands frequently, covering your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze, and disinfecting surfaces you touch and deal with on a regular basis.

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