Understanding new type of Coronavirus infecting thousands of people

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UNIVERSITAS AIRLANGGA NEWS – In the last few weeks, the world has been shocked by an epidemic that continues to spread to various countries and has claimed many lives. The spread of this outbreak, allegedly stems from a series of pneumonia cases with no known cause, in the Wuhan area, Hubei Province, China, in December 2019.

Some experts believe that the outbreak was caused by a new type of coronavirus. If observed in a microscope, coronaviruses have characteristics such as a crown that is marked with a protein spike or protein s around the surface of the virus. It is this type of protein that acts as a receptor and influences the process of infection in humans.

According to history, Corona Virus was first identified as a cause of the common cold in 1960. Until 2002, the virus was not considered fatal. However, after the presence of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-Cov) in China, experts began to focus on the causes and find results if the outbreak was caused by a new form of corona.

Then, in 2012 there was also a similar outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-Cov) in the Middle East. From both events, it is known that the corona is not a stable virus and is able to adapt to be more violent, even causing death. Since then, research on corona has grown.

Observing the spreading of the virus, Vice Dean III of Faculty of Veterinary Medicine (FKH) Universitas Airlangga, Prof. Dr. Soewarno, drh., M.Si., made some comments. He argued that the new type of coronavirus or Novel Corona Virus (2019-ncov) that is now spreading, is not a new thing, but a result of mutations. The virus is similar to the corona that causes SARS-Cov and MERS-Cov.

“The coronavirus has been around for a long time, both in humans and animals. For example, birds, turkeys, pigs, mice, cats, and dogs, each of which exists alone. In humans as well. Meanwhile, there are seven types of coronaviruses found from 1960 to 2019 with the name Novel Corona Virus, “he explained.

Coronavirus is divided into four types of genus, namely alpha coronavirus, beta coronavirus, gamma coronavirus, and delta coronavirus. However, the coronavirus that often attacks humans only comes from the alpha genus and the beta genus (most dangerous), while the coronavirus that attacks animals is from the delta genus and the gamma genus.

Seven types of coronaviruses that infect humans are HCoV-229E (alpha coronavirus), HCoV-NL63 (alpha coronavirus), HCoV-OC43 (beta coronavirus), and HCoV-HKU1 (beta coronavirus). The other three are the beta genus which can infect animals as well as humans after evolving in new forms, namely SARS-Cov, MERS-Cov, and 2019-ncov.

“Structurally, the three new types of coronaviruses have similarities in terms of structure and morphology. But it is different for their genetic and host. Moreover, being able to infect humans, this virus is categorized as zoonosis, “said Prof. Soewarno.

Coronavirus also has a number of characteristics. It is Single-stranded RNA so it is easy to mutate. Furthermore, there are four types of proteins that play an important role in them, including spike protein, matrix protein, envelope protein, and nucleoprotein. Of the four types, spike protein is the type that most often mutates because it has a role as a receptor attached to the host.

“In the past, this coronavirus was classified as host-specific. That is, it can only infect between animals or between humans. But with the mutation process, it is possible to infect other living things. Moreover, corona can also experience changes that are influenced by the environment, host, time, and changes in the nature of RNA,“ he explained.

According to a number of reports circulating, the spread of 2019-ncov, allegedly has a connection with the activities of a number of people in consuming extreme cuisine such as rats, bats, mice, carnivores, and primates. Although there is still a polemic regarding the exact cause of 2019-ncov, both experts and health authorities continue to carry out further research and treatment related to this virus.

“Unlike the coronavirus that circulated before, SARS-Cov originated from bats, while MERS-Cov was transmitted by camels. So far, it was concluded that 2019-ncov, mutated in bats, then continued into snakes, and ended up in humans. Therefore, people are advised to avoid consuming wild animals, “said First Chairman of the Indonesian Veterinary Association Executive Board (PB PDHI).

He gave an example on bats. According to Prof. Soewarno, there are three types of bats, insect-eating bats, blood-sucking bats, and fruit-eating bats. The three types of bats both act as virus vectors or disease intermediaries so they are not recommended for human consumption.

“In addition, bats can also carry viruses of several types, such as lyssavirus, coronavirus, adenovirus, and paramyxovirus, which are transmitted through bites or saliva. If that happens, it will be dangerous for humans, “said Prof. Soewarno.

Not only spreading through wildlife, 2019-ncov also infects humans through coughing and sneezing. Therefore, the community should prevent the spread of the virus by maintaining immunity, protecting the environment, wearing masks in an open space, processing food properly, and immediately seeing a doctor if you experience symptoms such as a sore throat, flu, cough, fever, or shortness of breath.

“The public must be vigilant because the 2019-ncov symptoms can appear in only one or fourteen days after exposure to the virus. This is based on observation of the previous virus spread as the MERS-Cov incubation period. Until now any specific treatment has not yet been found yet other than isolation, “he explained.

The Professor of Virology and Immunology of Faculty of Veterinary Medicine UNAIR also urged health workers to be vigilant because they have a greater risk of contraction, avoiding close contact with sufferers of Acute Respiratory Infection, using personal protective equipment, frequently washing hands after making contact with the environment of the sick, and reminding the ethics of coughing to acute respiratory infection patients. (*)