What Is Coronavirus Pandemic and What It Means To SIBO/IBS Patients?
What is Coronavirus disease?
Coronavirus disease, also called COVID-19, is a contagious disease triggered by a new type of Coronavirus, known as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus-2 or SARS-CoV-2. This newly discovered Coronavirus has not been previously found in humans.
Most people affected by this SARS-CoV-2 virus will have a mild or moderate respiratory illness, and they will get well without requiring any kind of special treatment.
However, older people, as well as those suffering from underlying health issues like diabetes, heart disease, chronic respiratory illness, and cancer, are more prone to developing medical complications 1.
Where did the Coronavirus Pandemic come from?
The coronaviruses are actually a group of viruses that are often found among animals, out of which some are known to infect people. Bats are the natural hosts of coronaviruses, but many more animal species can act as sources.
The Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (also called MERS-CoV), for example, is spread among humans when they come in contact with camels or consume camel meat. Another type of Coronavirus known as the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus-1 (also called SARS-CoV-1) is spread in humans from civets.
On 31st December, in 2019, the WHO Office in China came to know about some cases of pneumonia of unknown cause identified in Wuhan City, in the Hubei Province. From 31st December 2019 through 3rd January 2020, as many as 44 cases with pneumonia were reported by the Chinese authorities.
During this period, the underlying cause was not identified. On the 11th and 12th January, in 2020, WHO was further informed by the Chinese National Health Commission that the outbreak in Wuhan is linked to exposures in a seafood market. The authorities in China identified a new coronavirus strain, which they managed to isolate on 7th January 2020.
How does the COVID-19 spread?
Although animals are thought to be the natural source, the COVID-19 virus now spreads from one person to another. Although not enough information is available at this moment to find out how easily the Coronavirus spreads between humans, it is calculated that, on average, a single infected person can infect two to three others.
The SARS-CoV-2 seems to be spread through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or when he interacts with others for some time at a distance less than one meter. People may directly inhale respiratory droplets or may come in contact with the surfaces on which the droplets fall. These people get affected when they touch their eyes, mouth, or nose.
The COVID-19 virus is estimated to survive on various surfaces from a few hours (such as copper and cardboard) up to several days (like stainless steel and plastic) 2.
Nevertheless, the amount of disease-causing virus decreases over time, and so, these microbes may not always be able to cause infection. An infected person usually starts showing the symptoms in 1-14 days from the time he gets exposed to the virus.
What are the Symptoms of Coronavirus Disease?
The SARS-CoV-2 virus works differently in different people. Since it causes respiratory illness, most people develop mild or moderate signs and symptoms, and they recover without any kind of special treatment. However, those who have underlying health issues, and those more than 60 years old are at higher risks of developing severe illness and even death.
Here are some of the common symptoms:
- Dry cough
Other symptoms are:
- Aches and pains
- Shortness of breath
- Sore throat
- Some people may experience a runny nose, diarrhea, or nausea
People having mild signs and symptoms who are otherwise healthy must quarantine themselves and seek advice from their healthcare provider on testing. People with difficulty breathing, fever, cough, persistent pressure or pain in the chest should contact their doctor and seek out medical assistance immediately 3.
What are the Risks of Infection in People with SIBO or IBS?
There is not much scientific research that can determine the severity of illness and its symptoms in people with SIBO or IBS after COVID-19 infection.
People affected by SIBO or IBS appear to experience the same symptoms and clinical manifestations as those not affected by these gastrointestinal conditions. No current evidence indicates that COVID-19 infection has more negative effects on those affected by Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth.
Is there any Treatment Option for the Coronavirus Disease?
As of now, no specific vaccine or treatment is available for this disease.
Doctors and healthcare providers are now mostly using an approach to combat or treat the symptoms in infected persons rather than targeting the virus, thereby providing supportive care (for example, fluid management and oxygen therapy), which usually prove to be highly effective.
Those who experience severe symptoms or are critically ill are being given several drugs for targeting the virus. However, the effectiveness and use of these medications should be more carefully tested in randomized trials. Numerous clinical trials are now being performed throughout the world for their effectiveness. However, the results of those trials are not yet available.
Since it is a new kind of Coronavirus, no vaccine has been produced yet. Although several pharmaceutical companies and research groups have already started working on developing a vaccine, it may take several months, if not a year, before a drug or vaccine has been thoroughly tested and is available for use in people.
When should you be tested for Coronavirus?
The current recommendation for testing the COVID-19 virus depends on which stage the outbreak is in your area or country. Testing approaches are adapted based on the situation at the local and national level.
The authorities may choose to test only the suspected cases based on the capacity to test, the level of transmission of COVID-19, the availability of equipment for testing, or other criteria.
National authorities may choose to prioritize testing in these groups:
- People suffering from acute respiratory infections in long-term care facilities or hospital
- Hospitalized patients affected by severe respiratory infections
- Those with influenza-like illness or acute respiratory infections in individual hospitals or outpatient clinics
- Healthcare staff with mild or moderate symptoms
- People over 60 years old, with underlying chronic conditions like cerebrovascular disease, lung disease, liver disease, diabetes, cancer, renal disease, heart failure, and immunocompromising conditions
How can you Prevent the Coronavirus Disease from Spreading?
Since COVID-19 is a rapidly evolving medical condition and has already infected hundreds and thousands of people across the globe, you need to take some preventive measures to slow it down from spreading.
- Frequently wash your hands (roughly 20 seconds) with soap and water; you may clean them using an alcohol-based hand rub 4
- If you see a person is visibly unwell and he/she is coughing or sneezing, maintain a minimum distance of 1 meter (about 3 feet) between you and him/her
- Cover your nose and mouth with your folded elbow when sneezing or coughing
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth 4
- Self-isolate yourself if you do not feel well
- Practice social distancing by limiting travel and keeping away from groups of people. Local and national authorities in many countries have enforced lockdown. Make sure you abide by the rules
The outbreak of Coronavirus has evolved drastically in Europe and the U.S. The rapid increase of confirmed cases in countries like Italy, Spain, France, the U.K., and the U.S. has placed plenty of pressure on healthcare systems. It has presented a challenge for the local services as well.
All the countries have responded to this emerging situation. However, the situation is continuously evolving, with lessons still being learned and nations are working to manipulate their response to the changing situation. Predictions about when the peak outbreak will arrive and whether it can be minimized are all speculative at this present stage.
Since there is currently no drug or vaccine available against the virus that causes COVID-19, we can now only hope that the vaccine gets ready within a few months, and the world again becomes a safe place to live in.