A corona virus is a common virus that causes infection in the upper respiratory tract. The upper respiratory tract includes nose, sinuses and upper throat. Around 15 to 30% of the common colds are caused by corona viruses. The infection with corona viruses generally occurs in winter and early spring.
Although corona virus is a less dangerous virus, some of its types cause serious illness in humans. Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) is caused by two different types of corona viruses. MERS resulted in the death of over 475 people in Saudi Arabia in 2012. Similarly, 775 people lost their lives to SARS in 2003.
The spread of corona virus occurs by air and contact. A healthy person gets a virus infection by breathing in the droplets released by an infected person during coughing or sneezing. The virus is spread by touching the contaminated surfaces (e.g. handle of door) and cloths or skin of the infected person.
Almost every person gets infected with corona virus at least once in life. A person can get infected more than once in a lifetime. The infection is more common among the younger age group.
Types of Corona virus
The common corona viruses that infect humans are of four types:
1) 229E (Alpha corona virus)
2) NL63 (Alpha corona virus)
3) OC43 (Beta corona virus)
4) HKU1 (Beta corona virus)
The serious types of corona viruses include the following:
1) MERS-CoV (Beta corona virus)
- causes Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS)
2) SARS-CoV (Beta corona virus)
- causes Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)
These serious types originated from animals and later caused infection in humans.
Symptoms of corona virus
The cold or flu-like symptoms are seen in individuals who get infected with common types of corona virus. The symptoms are mild to moderate and generally appear 2 to 4 days after the entry of the virus. The symptoms are associated with the upper respiratory tract as the virus affects this region. The infected individual recovers after a short period (a few days).The symptoms that are generally seen are as follows:
The corona viruses can also infect the lower respiratory tract in elderly people, heart patients or people with weak immunity. These groups of people can suffer from pneumonia or bronchitis.
The symptoms are severe when someone gets infected with MERS-CoV or SARS-CoV. Fever, cough, and shortness of breath are the symptoms of MERS. In SARS, the symptoms include fever, chills, and body aches. In both MERS and SARS, a patient can finally suffer from pneumonia.
There is no specific treatment available for corona virus infection. The treatment is similar to that of a common cold.
Although most people recover naturally if infected with common corona viruses, the following recommendations are highly useful:
Drinking plenty of fluid
Taking a lot of rest
Taking medicines for fever, pain and sore throat
Taking a warm shower
There are no vaccines available to prevent corona viruses. You can prevent yourself from the virus by avoiding contact with infected people and properly washing the hands. Similarly, touching the eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands should also be avoided.