Science of viruses

What are coronaviruses?

In brief, they are a family of viruses or germs that cause respiratory and intestinal illness in humans and animals. They are named for the distinctive appearance of their spikes; when seen under a powerful microscope, the spikes look like a crown (corona is the Latin for ‘crown’). There is increasing evidence that coronaviruses may have been transmitted to humans from other animals – bats specifically – with pangolins as an intermediary host.

What makes this coronavirus different?

You may have heard of ‘coronaviruses’ in the past and be wondering why this variety is so different. Your recollection is correct – the new coronavirus, labelled COVID-19, is not the first coronavirus we have experienced. In fact, coronaviruses are relatively commonplace. During any given year they typically contribute to roughly a third of worldwide common cold infections. Whilst certainly annoying, for most people without underlying health conditions, symptoms of lower-grade coronaviruses pass without causing great harm.

But that is not always the case. The emergence of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) epidemic in China in 2002–2003 and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in 2012 show they can also cause severe disease on occasion. Since December 2019 we have been battling a new form of coronavirus, COVID-19, which was first identified in Wuhan, China, following reports of serious pneumonia. Even though there are many similarities between the new coronavirus and the virus that caused the SARS/MURS epidemics, there are differences resulting from changes in their genomes. This includes how they are passed from one individual to another and the kind of symptoms they cause. More information on coronavirus can be found on the World Health Organisation’s Coronavirus website*.

Coronavirus symptoms

For most people, COVID-19 illnesses tend to be milder than SARS and MERS but more severe than those caused by other varieties of coronavirus and the common flu virus. However, as the current COVID-19 form is brand new to the population, no one has yet acquired immunity to it. This means it can infect large numbers of people to wildly different degrees. One of the truly unfortunate aspects of this type of coronavirus is that many people will be ‘asymptomatic’ but still able to pass the virus onto others. Whilst they show no outward symptoms of the virus (cough, respiratory issues, etc.) they are as contagious as those with full-blown symptoms. Though the number of very severe cases thankfully seems to be low in percentage terms, a small percentage of a very large number leads to many people overall with acute illnesses.

In time we will learn more about how this virus compares to the common flu and other forms of coronavirus, but early evidence from around the world indicates that COVID-19 will be much more contagious and deadly than what is typically seen with seasonal flus.

This illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses. Note the spikes that adorn the outer surface of the virus, which impart the look of a corona surrounding the virion, when viewed electron microscopically. A novel coronavirus, named Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China in 2019. The illness caused by this virus has been named coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Surface protection

Unfortunately, like most viruses, COVID-19 does not go away easily on its own; when it enters your premises, it can stay active for a long time on surfaces. It is very possible to catch the virus when touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes. More in-depth information about how viruses pass from surfaces to people to can be found on the Surface Contaminants page of our website.

Virus risk reduction – contact Purifyz

To reduce the risk of infection It is imperative to regularly sanitise and disinfect your home or business.

With Purifyz the process of virus and germ decontamination is simple and straightforward. To book a virus sanitation treatment with us or to find out more, go to our How it works section of the website or quickly fill out the enquiry form found here and a representative will be in touch at the time of your choice.

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Our decontamination process uses non-toxic, non-hazardous antiviral fogging and UV light treatments that reduce germ and virus particulates by 99.999%, and are completely safe for children, pets, computers and other equipment. 

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