On 4th January 2020, a health alert was sounded in Hong Kong. This happened after 5 visitors who came back from Wuhan in mainland China were suspected to be suffering from a mystery pneumonia virus. Wuhan has already seen 59 such cases. Most of these people worked at the seafood market of Huanan. 7 among them are supposed to be in critical condition. The World Health Organization has come out with a report where it has found no proof of transmission of this virus between humans. Therefore, it is being assumed so far that the disease is being spread by animals since most of the people affected were working at a seafood market.
Apart from basic seafood other animals are also being sold at the market.
Let us find out more about this unknown viral infection on this digital health platform.
What is the situation right now?
As of now, the situation is being monitored closely by the World Health Organization, which is trying to make sure that this does not become another epidemic. In the initial stages, it was being feared that this could be yet another epidemic-like outbreak of SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome). The Municipal Health Commission of Wuhan has however ruled out such a possibility. It was in 2002-03 that SARS broke out and it claimed more than 700 people.
The World Health Organization is yet to declare any trade or travel restrictions on the East Asian country. However, it has also cautioned people that they should go to their closest healthcare facility. They need to do so as soon as they see any symptoms like flu.
Is the world ready for an epidemic?
Following the Ebola epidemic that broke out in 2014 and 2015, the World Health Organization came out with an R&D (research and development) blueprint that was supposed to help authorities take steps necessary to prevent epidemics. In this paper, it made quite clear that the world may not be prepared to deal with epidemics that were being caused by new pathogens.
The situation in Hong Kong
Meanwhile, it is being acknowledged in Chinese media that the situation in the central city of Wuhan has indeed become a major challenge for the authorities over there. As has been said already, Hong Kong has been put on alert. It also brought back the sordid memories of SARS that claimed 299 lives in Hong Kong 17 years back. Already, there are dozens of people who have been suspected to be suffering from the virus. The authorities in mainland China are saying this new virus is a coronavirus strain and belongs to the same family as that of SARS. However, more information is being awaited on the same.
The latest situation in Wuhan
It was on 31st December 2019 that the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission first revealed publicly that 27 people were suffering from this mystery pneumonia virus. The first patient to have contracted the disease was taken ill on 12th December that year. All the patients were said to be suffering from fever and a few of them were finding it hard to breathe as well. The number rose to 59 in a few weeks.
The latest news in this regard
Till now all the patients affected by this mystery pneumonia virus have been put in isolation so that they can be treated. However, no case of death has been reported as of yet. 163 people were supposed to have been in close contact with the affected in Wuhan. They too have been placed in isolation so that they can be treated as well. The authorities over there are saying that at least 8 people have gotten better and have been let go as well.
How to prevent pneumonia?
There are some preventive measures that you can take to reduce your chances of suffering from the infection caused by this mystery pneumonia virus. They can be divided into three heads – practicing good hygiene, taking vaccines, and maintaining a proper lifestyle.
Practicing good hygiene
When you are sneezing, or coughing, make sure that you are covering your nose and mouth with a handkerchief or a thick tissue. Remember to wash your hands, if you use them for wiping your nose or mouth. The same goes for the time before you have food or visit a washroom.
Practicing these habits regularly can help you in preventing the spreading of germs. If you have used any tissue you should discard it as soon as possible.
Having a healthy lifestyle
You should quit smoking and limit the amount of alcohol that goes into your body. It is also advised to fresh vegetables and fruits in your diet. You should also work out regularly.
You can get vaccinated against pneumonia but please keep in mind that it may not be successful in all the cases. However, if you get vaccinated your infection would be a milder one.
With proper vaccination even if you contract pneumonia it would not last long. The complications would be a lot less serious as well. This is when you compare to people who have not taken the vaccine and have contracted the disease as well. There are three main vaccines in this regard – pneumococcal pneumonia vaccine, H1b (Haemophilus influenzae) vaccine, and flu (influenza) vaccine. The first kind of vaccine is meant for the following:
- children younger than 5 years
- children older than 5 years old but suffering from diseases such as lung diseases, cancer, or heart diseases
- people who are suffering from chronic diseases such as diabetes, asthma, HIV/AIDS (human immunodeficiency virus – acquired immunodeficiency syndrome), and a weak immunity
- adults who are older than 65 years old
The flu vaccine is important as quite often people, who get flu can get pneumonia as well. This is especially true for people who are not as healthy as others. Therefore, they need to get vaccinated every year. It will help stop them from contracting pneumonia. The flu vaccine is normally administered between September and November. This is the time when it is the likeliest to spread. The H1b vaccine helps fight both meningitis and pneumonia.
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