A new strain of the coronavirus has spreading through China and several other countries as experts struggle to determine the number of infections.
Health Care Workers Search for the Origin of the New Strain
The new coronavirus has been spreading in Wuhan, the capital of China’s Hubei province. The virus appears to be spreading through seafood markets, where both live and recently slaughtered animals are up for sale.
According to the BBC, there are more than 500 confirmed cases with 17 deaths linked to the virus in China, but the virus has slowly been spreading, with cases in Thailand, Japan, South Korea, and the US.
While researchers are still not 100% certain how this new strain of coronavirus came to be, it’s likely that due to a change in one of the viral proteins in 2019-nCoV (as the virus is named). This would allow it to recognize and bind to receptors on certain host cells.
Coronaviruses generally affect animals and not humans, although some are capable of evolving and spreading to humans. The coronavirus family usually causes respiratory illnesses such as common colds, or lower-respiratory tract illnesses like pneumonia and bronchitis.
The primary way to get infected with the virus seems to be from animal to human, although it is likely that it’s possible to be transmitted from person to person through sneezing, coughing, close contact with an infected person or an object that might have been exposed to virus cells.
Despite how scary it sounds, the coronavirus is not considered lethal, with the CDC saying that no specific treatment is usually required for such viruses, and most people recover on their own by resting and relieving symptoms with medication. However, one oddity in the virus is that symptoms greatly vary, with some people only experiencing mild illness and others becoming severely ill, likely due to personal health.
Meanwhile, China has been taking action, with Wuhan and two other cities quarantined and a vaccine being developed by the US.