Coronavirus Update: Scientists Trace Outbreak to Snakes
By now, you’ve probably heard about the Coronavirus outbreak that began in China. Authorities now have a lead on the source of the new deadly outbreak of this disease. Scientists believe snakes, specifically the Chinese krait and Chinese cobra could be the source of the outbreak. They concluded the 2019-nCoV was a recombination of two known coronaviruses after analyzing the genetic sequencing. One is of unknown origin, but the other is known to infect bats. Though it’s rare for coronaviruses to transfer from animals to people, it is obviously possible. Researchers considered other animal hosts as the possible culprit but concluded snakes are a likely suspect. In fact, scientists from Purdue University say this strain of the coronavirus has genetic similarities to the SARS variant that killed over 750 people in 2002.
2019-nCoV Investigations in Michigan
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services report three confirmed cases of the new coronavirus right here in Michigan – two from Washtenaw County and one from Macomb County. Luckily, their illnesses are considered mild at this time. Samples have been taken from the infected individuals and sent to the CDC for analysis, which should take a few days. With the spread of this disease, it’s important for anyone who personally traveled to Wuhan or came in contact with someone else who has recently to be on the lookout for symptoms of lower respiratory illness such as a cough, difficulty breathing, or fever. Please contact your doctor immediately if these symptoms develop.
What About Other Cases, Like in Chicago?
Illinois health officials confirmed two cases of the new coronavirus. The newest patient is a woman in her 60s who visited Wuhan in December and returned home to Chicago on January 13, 2020. Her condition is being closely monitored but she is reported to be stable. Luckily, she did not use public transportation, nor did she exhibit symptoms when flying home. As for the rest of the country, the CDC says the immediate risk to the general public is low. They are, however, monitoring 63 other possible infections across 22 states.
Is There A Cure?
Unfortunately, there is no vaccine or specific treatment for the 2019-nCoV. Patients instead receive supportive care. The Perdue University scientists are diligently working on a vaccine that they hope to test on the new coronavirus in the near future. So, as always, make sure to practice good hygiene – wash your hands often with soap and water, and cover your mouth when your elbow when you sneeze or cough. This is especially important when you’re in public. This simple step can go a long way in helping stop the spread of germs.