Dear readers, welcome to the third edition of HEALTH NUGGETS with DR ANIEKEME ANIEFIOK UWAH. Based on the current outbreak of coronavirus in China that is spreading rapidly globally, we will take a break from our series on the priority diseases and focus on the Coronavirus outbreak.
In the last 50 years, there has been an increase in the incidence of zoonotic diseases, which are diseases transmitted from animals to man. Some of these diseases include Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), Lassa fever, Rabies, Monkey pox and very recently Coronavirus.
Coronaviruses were discovered in the 1960s. The earliest ones discovered were infectious bronchitis virus in chickens and two viruses from nasal cavities of human patients with the common cold and were subsequently named coronavirus 229E and human coronavirus OC43.
The coronavirus outbreak began on the 30th of December 2019 in Wuhan, a major transport city in China and has so far infected about 2,000 people with 80 deaths recorded. The outbreak has so far spread to Japan, Thailand, Taiwan, South Korea, The United States of America (USA) and France which prompted the World Health Organization (WHO) to consider declaring the outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).
The current outbreak is caused by a novel virus and provisionally called 2019-nCoV. A coronavirus from the same family as the viruses that caused Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
The vectors of coronaviruses are thought to include camels (responsible for MERS), civet cats (responsible for SARS), bats and recent research has shown that snakes are the likely vectors of the novel coronaviruses.
MODE OF TRANSMISSION:
Coronaviruses are a large group of viruses commonly found in many species of animals including humans and in rare cases,’jump’ from animals to man and in some cases from person to person. The incubation period is 2 -14 days and the virus could be transmitted through contacts with animals like bats,cats, camels and snakes.
Human to human transmission is through droplets during coughing, sneezing (especially if one is less than 3 feet from an infected person) and handshakes.
It is also instructive to note that the virus could be spread even before symptoms manifest.
The symptoms include running nose, cough, sore-throat, headache, fever (which could last for several days). If the patient’s immunity is weakened, there could be pneumonia, bronchitis and respiratory distress.
Currently, there is no vaccine for the coronavirus infection. Treatment is mainly symptomatic.
To avoid contracting this deadly virus, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) advises that;
1. There should be no travels to Wuhan, China.
2. For travellers to other parts of China;
a. Avoid contacts with sick people.
b. Avoid animals.
c. Avoid animal markets and products that come from animals
d. Wash your hands regularly with soap and running water or use alcohol based sanitizers if water is not available.
e. Avoid touching the eyes, nose and mouth.
f. Use face masks where available.
g. Seek medical care if you have cough or fever.
Here in Nigeria, the Federal Ministry of Health should conduct the following activities;
1. Intensification of surveillance at all points of entry into the country.
2. Commencement of screening of passengers (especially those from China) at all international airports in the country.
3. Port health services should be strengthened.
4. There should be an increased sensitization and awarenesss amongst Nigerians on the proper handling of sea-foods.
5. There should be a restriction on the importation of animals like snakes, civet cats, bats and camels for research, sports and other purposes into the country.
6. There should be a sensitization of snake handlers and charmers in zoos and in the community.
I. To detect and respond promptly and appropriately to cases and outbreak of coronaviruses.
II. Immediate case based reporting of cases and deaths when an outbreak is suspected.
In conclusion, the prevention of the outbreak of coronavirus in our state and country is a collectively responsibility. Therefore, all hands must be put on deck to avoid the attendant morbidity and mortality that could result from the outbreak. Like Dr Godfrey Akro, Director, Public Health Services, Ministry of Health, Akwa Ibom State said,’ an outbreak anywhere, is an outbreak everywhere.’
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