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The History of Coronavirus

The Coronavirus is an RNA virus, first identified in the 1960s, which has been divided into 4 genera, two of which infect humans.  Remember SARS? Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome occurred in the early 2000s carrying a 10% death rate. The initial transmission was from animal to humans via live game markets, then human to human through aerosol spread – coughing, sneezing and hospital procedures on the respiratory tract, which caused nosocomial spread. This taught us that animal CoVs could jump the species barrier, expanding the perception of pandemic threats.  

In 2012, a beta-CoV made the species jump as the Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome was identified in the sputum of a Saudi man who died from respiratory failure.  This virus was contained and smoldered. As of 2019, MERS -C0V has caused 2494 cases and 858 deaths, the majority in Saudi Arabia. The reservoir for this is presumed to be bats, but the human transmission events have been through the dromedary camel.  

The most recent Corona Virus, COVID-19 has first identified in Wuhan China again in a live animal market.  The initial transmission of the virus was from animal to human, classifying it as zoonotic transmission. The action of the WHO which placed SARS and MERS-CoV on its Priority Pathogen list was responsible for Chinese authorities reporting the cluster of pneumonia cases in Wuhan China on December 31, 2019.   So far, the fatality rate of COVID-2019 is lower than both SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV. 

As of 8 March, the outbreak has affected more than 89,000 people globally, with a total death toll in excess of 3,000. In mainland China, of the 80,734 confirmed cases, over 53,638 people have recovered, and 3,045 (or 3.6%) have died. Over 148 deaths have occurred outside of China.

Mode of Transmission

Person-to-person transmission is still considered the primary mode of spread of this virus.  Standing less than 6 feet from a coughing and/or sneezing person who is infected carries the greatest risk for transmission.  

COVID-19 presents with symptoms similar to a bad cold, and mild to moderate respiratory problems such as a runny nose and sore throat.  The spread of this virus has been greater than SARS and MERS, infecting over 89,000 documented cases, but with a death rate of only 2%. People vulnerable to mortality from this virus are the frail elderly and people with co-morbidities such as diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic diseases with compromised immune systems.  

The trajectory of this virus is unknown so the best measures we can take are to strengthen and fortify our immune systems to prevent infection, or to fight it early so it dissipates.  

CDC Precautions 

The CDC recommends the following precautions to prevent infection from the virus:

  1. Avoid non-essential travel to China, Italy, Iran, South Korea and travel to  Japan with precautions
  2. Disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces by wiping them down with a household cleaning spray or wipe.  COVID-19 can live for up to 9 days on surfaces. 
  3. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  4. Stay home when you are sick.
  5. Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  6. Follow CDC recommendations for using a face mask.  The CDC does not recommend that people who are well wearing a face mask protect themselves from COVID-19.  They should be used by health workers with exposure to patients with upper respiratory symptoms. 
  7. Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, sneezing, or coughing. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains 60% alcohol.
  8. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

A Dose of Prevention to Keep Yourself Healthy

I would like to offer some solace and tips for minimizing your risk for Coronavirus infection. While attempts to contain COVID-19 are underway, we are still more at risk with the influenza virus than Coronavirus, but the newness of this virus among humans, its lack of symptoms early after infection, and person-to-person contact have created justified concern.  

Our lifestyle has the most profound impact on our immune system and some simple measures to reset our lifestyles that can help prevent and contain this virus are as follows: 

  1. Eat a Whole Food Plant-Based Diet.
  2. Exercise daily for at least 20 minutes.
  3. Utilize stress reduction techniques such as meditation, yoga, and abdominal breathing – holding stress in the body negatively impacts the immune system.  
  4. Try to get at least 6 to 7 hours of sleep per night.
  5.  Drink plenty of water, a minimum of 4, 8oz glasses per day
  6.  Take a broad-spectrum probiotic daily that contains at least 5 Lactobacillus and 5 Bifidum strains.
  7.  Stop smoking.
  8.  Minimize to eliminate alcohol.  Alcohol disrupts the gut flora by inducing leaky gut and making the immune system vulnerable.  It also reduces the production of viral proteins by the liver that assists in foreign bacteria/virus recognition by the immune system. It also reduces the production of natural antioxidants and reduces the liver’s detoxifying functions.  A healthy liver assists the immune system in fighting bacterial and viral infections.

So although we are in the process of containing COVID-19, we need not panic, but take the necessary precautions listed above.  The most important steps you can take to prevent getting sick, are the same evidence-based steps listed above for decades that detail lifestyle methods providing maximal prevention and recovery from illness.

With concerns for a potential pandemic with Coronavirus, why not begin taking these steps now and building resilience and strength to fortify your body’s inner pharmacy so you can stay healthy?

After all, prevention is the best medicine.

We at The Ommani Center are taking the necessary precautions to minimize viral transmission and to keep our patients and health providers safe.  We do not see a large number of patients for typical symptoms seen in Urgent Care and Emergency Department settings, so our patients and health workers are at a lower risk for Flu/Coronavirus transmission.

However, we are following the guidelines outlined by the World Health Organization to take the necessary precautions to prevent COVID-19 transmission.

©March2020 Kalpana (Rose) M. Kumar M.D., CEO and Medical Director, The Ommani Center for Integrative Medicine, Pewaukee, WI. Author of 2nd Edition – Becoming Real: Reclaiming Your Health in Midlife 2014, Medial Press.

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Evidence Based Integrative Medicine