Vietnam’s growing epidemic of the viral infection known as the coronavirus has, at first, confounded anti-strain public health officials around the world.
While the virus’ H5N1 ancestor has been known to infect humans for decades, never before have humans sustained so much viral infection, according to data released in January by the World Health Organization. This new surge of human infection came as the virus took advantage of a recent larger outbreak of SARS, also known as severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS.
But for South Korean residents, this corona virus isn’t new at all. Many of them had been exposed to the coronavirus before the recent spike of infections, and the WHO advised all South Koreans to immediately take measures to protect themselves — wearing face masks, for example, and avoiding contact with infected individuals. The prognosis for those with H5N1 infection is grim.
Another thing that’s true about the coronavirus is that it isn’t particularly deadly. There have been only 27 human fatalities so far, most of which occurred in 2015, and the WHO cautions that the virus is unlikely to ever cause any more than that.
Just imagine the scene in South Korea. Many in the country are familiar with this information, thanks to their country’s hard-fought trials with another viral coronavirus, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
The new Nautilus report describes how this new corona virus is like SARS — in other words, it’s initially highly infectious and unfortunately people get infected — but different in several ways. One of those is in its desire to pass to other mammals. The WHO statement highlights that it is still hard to infect non-human hosts, which is what killed the H5N1 virus in the past. But now it seems we have this new coronavirus able to infect mammals in a way that makes it more likely to take a path to humans.
Read the full story on Nautilus.
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