By Tess Pollok Generation Iron
The strange and deadly coronavirus, which is thought to have originated from contaminated bushmeat sold at a market in Wuhan, China, has its first confirmed cases in the US.
Concerns about the virus have spread almost as rapidly as it has; as of today, there are over 7,000 confirmed cases in mainland China and just over 100 spread across 18 other countries. Without further research into how the disease is transmitted and lacking other vital information, it’s hard to say just how likely the situation is to escalate into a worldwide pandemic — though that hasn’t stopped rampant speculation that we’re headed towards a Contagion-level event. But how deadly is the coronavirus, and what is your likelihood of catching it? Here’s everything we do and don’t know about the transmission of the coronavirus.
Fact: Human-to-human transmission of the coronavirus is possible.
It has been confirmed by Chinese officials that the coronavirus can be spread through human-to-human contact. It’s important for affected individuals to be quarantined as quickly as possible since they can spread the disease through their blood, sweat, and saliva. If you were near a person with the virus who sneezed, or if you recently touched a surface that they touched, you may have been exposed to the disease. Washing your hands frequently and wearing a face mask in affected areas are two things you can do to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.
Fiction: Bleach, olive oil, and other homeopathic remedies can treat the coronavirus.
This is a brand new disease and there is no known treatment or vaccine for the coronavirus! Doctors can treat some of the symptoms of the virus, which include fever, coughing, and respiratory distress, but the body basically has to fight it off on its own. The National Institute of Health estimates that a coronavirus vaccine is months, if not years, away from being made available to the public. Do not drink bleach; it will kill you.
Fact: The coronavirus came from wild animals — 60/40 toss up between bats and snakes at this point.
The coronavirus was first linked with people shopping and eating at the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, a seafood market in the Wuhan province of China. The practice of eating bushmeat (meaning non-domesticated animals) is a controversial one in the field of virology because it has the potential to create novel viruses. The 2014 West Africa Ebola Outbreak was confirmed to be due to the consumption of bat meat and bats are also instrumental in the transmission of SARS. Some geneticists argue that the coronavirus more closely resembles a strain found in snakes. Since both were being sold at the market, it’s impossible to say this early which animal was responsible. Either way, eating wild animal meat has its risks!
Fiction: The coronavirus will kill you.
Of the thousands of cases of the virus reported in China, very few resulted in fatalities, and most of those were in people with pre-existing respiratory conditions. The fatality rate of the coronavirus is hovering between 2% and 3% of cases and those are actually great odds. If you live in the US, you are a lot more likely to die of the flu, so maybe focus on that.