Coronavirus Reaches U.S.

What is the coronavirus?

(Photo Credit: AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

What is the coronavirus?

A mysterious new virus that killed nine people in China has now made its way to the United States. Called a “coronavirus,” the bug is in the same family as SARS and MERS, viruses that have also caused deadly epidemics in Asia and other parts of the world.

Like SARS and MERS, the new coronavirus causes anything from mild flu-like symptoms to acute respiratory failure and death in people who get infected. Because coronaviruses are rare and poorly understood, hospitals often misdiagnose cases and don’t take the proper precautions to quarantine patients.

“Coronaviruses contain a strand of RNA within their envelope and cannot reproduce without getting inside living cells and hijacking the machinery found within,” the technology blog CNET reports. “Typically, these types of viruses are found in animals ranging from livestock to household pets and wildlife such as bats. When they make the jump to humans they can cause fever, respiratory illness and inflammation in the lungs. In immunocompromised individuals, such as the elderly or those with HIV-AIDS, they can cause severe respiratory illness.”

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the president of the World Health Organization, called an emergency meeting on Wednesday, January 22nd, to decide how to most effectively respond to the coronavirus. The last time an emergency meeting of the WHO was called, it was in response to the Ebola epidemic of 2014.

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