Everything you need to know about viral pneumonia
A new deadly strain of viral pneumonia has emerged and it’s now entered through the borders of major countries around the world, including the US. But where did this virus come from? How did it spread so far across the globe? And what can you do to protect yourself?
Here, we’ll provide a definitive guide to tell you everything you need to know about viral pneumonia, going through the current outbreak situation, symptoms and treatments available, as well as how you can personally prepare yourself for the new virus.
What is viral pneumonia?
Viral pneumonia occurs when the respiratory system becomes infected by a virus that causes inflammation. The disease can be caused by many strands of viruses, meaning that the severity of the disease can vary significantly between mild to life-threatening. These viruses typically include:
Meanwhile, pneumonia can also be caused by other types of pathogens, such as bacteria.
What is the Wuhan pneumonia?
The Wuhan pneumonia is a new strand of viral pneumonia that has emerged from the Chinese city of Wuhan in late-December 2019. While the virus is genetically similar to the SARS virus that appeared two decades ago, the Wuhan pneumonia seems to be less deadly but still potentially life-threatening.
When did the outbreak start?
On December 31, the World Health Organization (WHO) was alerted by Chinese authorities about this new strain of virus. Medical experts have traced the roots of this new virus to the Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan, where many exotic types of meat are being sold. The unclear origin of the virus gave it the novel name ‘mystery virus’.
How does the virus spread?
It has now been confirmed that the Wuhan pneumonia can be transmitted from one human to another through direct contact. Currently, it is still unclear whether the virus is also airborne.
How many countries has the Wuhan pneumonia entered?
As the Lunar New Year holiday season approaches, more and more Chinese tourists have started to travel abroad, including citizens from Wuhan. This has led to a series of cases where the virus crossed the Chinese border into other countries, starting with Thailand.
On January 13, a 61-year-old Chinese woman carried the Wuhan pneumonia into Thailand. The infected woman was from Wuhan, and since then, there have been 4 reported cases of the mystery virus in the Kingdom.
On January 16, a Japanese man in his 30s tested positive for the Wuhan pneumonia, next to Tokyo. The Japanese health minister reported that the man had been to Wuhan where the outbreak began.
On January 20, South Korea reported its first case of the new viral pneumonia. This time, the infected person was a 35-year-old Chinese female originally from Wuhan.
On January 21, a Taiwanese woman in her 50s living in Wuhan who returned to the island tested positive for the disease.
On January 22, the US confirmed its first case of the Wuhan virus. The patient is a US citizen in his 30s who has just returned from Wuhan. Later that day, Hong Kong also reported its first case of the virus after a 39-year-old man tested positive for the flu.
These are the number of countries that have reported cases of the Wuhan pneumonia at the time of this article’s writing. The list is likely to grow larger in the near future. The Chinese government has already suspended all outbound transport from Wuhan in an attempt to minimize the spread of the disease.
How many people are infected so far?
The number of people being infected continues to increase, and unfortunately, so does the death toll. In the time of writing this blog, the current number of infected persons stand at 571 and the death toll at 17.
What happens if you’re infected?
Symptoms of the Wuhan pneumonia are similar to those of other types of viral pneumonia. They include:
If you experience any of these symptoms, it is extremely important that you visit a nearby hospital as soon as possible to get proper diagnosis and treatment for your illness.
How should you prepare for the outbreak?
Even if you’re not living in the countries listed above, the virus has already spread internationally, and there is always a possibility of it entering your country of residence. Hence, during a virus outbreak, it’s important that you make the appropriate preparations to minimize the risk of getting infected. With that said, here are three easy things you can do to avoid getting infected.
1. Wear a flu mask
Research has shown that a flu mask or antivirus mask can help prevent airborne influenza. Flu masks can also deter direct contact between infected surfaces and your mouth, thereby preventing viruses from entering your body. So with an outbreak going on, an easy thing you can do is to get yourself a flu mask and wear it when you’re in public areas.
2. Stay healthy
This tip may seem like a no-brainer. It’s absolutely crucial that you stay healthy and keep your immune system strong if you want to avoid getting infected when there’s an outbreak occurring.
This is because you are more prone to being infected by the Wuhan pneumonia if your immune system is weak and defenseless. So keep reminding yourself to get enough sleep, drink plenty of water, and have nutritious meals consistently until the Wuhan virus is dealt with.
3. Get health insurance coverage
If you’re infected with any type of viral pneumonia, you must visit a hospital as soon as possible for coronavirus treatment. However, as there is currently no cure for the Wuhan virus and many other types of viral pneumonia, treatment could take up to several weeks. This situation can leave you with hefty medical bills that you’ll have to make out-of-pocket payments for.
For this reason, we’d also recommend you to get private health insurance so that you are covered for any medical risks related to pneumonia. Now that the virus has crossed many borders around the globe, you may also want to consider getting international health insurance to get your costs covered when you’re traveling abroad.