Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) Cause, Symptoms & Treatment

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The disease was first identified in 2019 in Wuhan, China, and has since spread globally, resulting in the 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic.

Other names:

  • 2019-nCoV acute respiratory disease

  • Novel coronavirus pneumonia

  • "Coronavirus" or other names for SARS-CoV-2

Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).

Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people.  Detailed investigations found that SARS-CoV was transmitted from civet cats to humans and MERS-CoV from dromedary camels to humans.

 

Symptoms of Coronavirus disease 2019

Reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death for confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases.

The following symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure.

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

 

Symptoms fever.Symptoms cough.symptoms shortness of breath

If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19 get medical attention immediately. Emergency warning signs include*:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or inability to arouse
  • Bluish lips or face

In some, the disease may progress to pneumonia, multi-organ failure, and death.

As is common with infections, there is a delay from when a person is infected with the virus to when they develop symptoms, known as the incubation period. The incubation period for COVID-19 is typically five to six days but may range from two to fourteen days.

*This list is not all inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning.

 

Testing for Coronavirus disease 2019

If you are a close contact of someone with COVID-19 or you are a resident in a community where there is ongoing spread of COVID-19 and develop symptoms of COVID-19, call your healthcare provider and tell them about your symptoms and your exposure. They will decide whether you need to be tested, but keep in mind that there is no treatment for COVID-19 and people who are mildly ill may be able to isolate and care for themselves at home.

If you are at higher risk for serious illness

People at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19 should contact their healthcare provider early, even if their illness is mild.

Older adults and people who have severe underlying chronic medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes seem to be at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19 illness.

If you are very sick get medical attention immediately

If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19 get medical attention immediately. Emergency warning signs include*:

 

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or inability to arouse
  • Bluish lips or face

*This list is not all inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning.

Diagnosis of Coronavirus disease 2019

The WHO has published several testing protocols for the disease. The standard method of testing is real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (rRT-PCR). The test can be done on respiratory samples obtained by various methods, including a nasopharyngeal swab or sputum sample. Results are generally available within a few hours to two days. Blood tests can be used, but these require two blood samples taken two weeks apart and the results have little immediate value

Management/Treatment of Coronavirus disease 2019

People are managed with supportive care which may include fluid, oxygen support, and supporting other affected vital organs. The WHO and Chinese National Health Commission have published recommendations for taking care of people who are hospitalised with COVID-19. Steroids such as methylprednisolone are not recommended unless the disease is complicated by acute respiratory distress syndrome. Intensivists and pulmonologists in the US have compiled treatment recommendations from various agencies into a free resource, the IBCC. CDC recommends that those who suspect they carry the virus wear a simple face mask.

The WHO does not recommend against the use of ibuprofen or related non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for the treatment of Covid-19 symptoms. Nevertheless, paracetamol is recommended for first-line use.

Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) has been used to address the issue of respiratory failure, but its benefits are still under consideration.

No medication are approved to treat the disease by the WHO although some are recommended by individual national medical authorities

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