With all the media coverage lately and warnings about the coronavirus, you might be asking yourself “what is coronavirus? Should I be worried about getting the coronavirus? How do I protect myself? What’s the difference between influenza and the coronavirus?” To begin, let’s answer the question of “what is coronavirus?”

What is Coronavirus

Various strains of coronaviruses have been around since the 1960s. They are a common virus that can be spread among humans and animals. In previous years, the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) were both caused by a coronavirus strain. 

The common cold is another type of coronavirus. Coronaviruses most frequently affect the upper respiratory system. As with all viruses, there isn’t a cure, but some precautions that can be taken in preventing infection from coronavirus.

The Human Coronavirus Outbreak

Most recently, a new strain of coronavirus called COVID-19 has been causing worldwide concern. It originated in China and has since spread to other areas around the world. Believed to have spread from animals in a market in Wuhan, humans contracted it and it’s now being closely watched by the World Health Organization (WHO).

As of March 6, 2020, there have been just over 98,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide resulting in around 4500 deaths, according to the WHO. The coronavirus COVID-19 has not reached pandemic levels at this time but precautions should be taken so it remains contained as much as possible. 

The human coronavirus COVID-19 is now spreading from person to person. Although, those in china should still remain cautious when coming in contact with animals.

Influenza vs. Coronavirus: What You Should Know

Influenza and human coronavirus COVID-19 are two completely different viruses. Although there is a similarity in their symptoms, that’s where the likeness ends. Here are common symptoms of both the human coronavirus COVID-19 and Influenza.

Symptoms of Influenza

Influenza is an upper respiratory illness that affects, and kills, many people worldwide each year. Some common symptoms of influenza include:

  • Cough
  • Stuffy nose
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Body aches
  • Sore throat

Not everyone that comes down with the flu will have all of these symptoms and there are a few others that are rare but can happen.

cdc influenza flu

Symptoms of Human Coronavirus COVID-19

The human coronavirus COVID-19 has only a few symptoms that are frequently being seen. 

Those symptoms are:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Trouble breathing

Although there may be other symptoms a person has, they aren’t as common.

Differences Between Influenza and COVID-19

Besides being caused by two different viruses, there are a couple of other things that make the current coronavirus outbreak different than influenza. 

sick in bed flu

Some differences are:

  • There is a yearly vaccine for Influenza that can help prevent it or lessen symptoms; coronavirus has no vaccine currently.
  • Some people have a slight immunity built up against Influenza due to previous exposure; people won’t have immunity to COVID-19 since it’s new.
  • Influenza is expected to affect people every year due to its nature and difficulty to contain; coronavirus is showing signs of being containable.
  • Influenza affects a much larger number of people annually than the coronavirus.

Who is the Coronavirus Affecting

The coronavirus is affecting people of all ages. However, younger people tend to have milder symptoms which can be resolved through care at home. Older people and those with underlying medical conditions are at the highest risk for severe illness from the coronavirus. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), this demographic is twice as likely to have more severe symptoms than their younger counterparts.

The real risk associated with the coronavirus is its effects on our elderly population. Measures to protect them and those who already have extreme medical conditions should be of utmost importance. While you may contract the coronavirus, its effects may be minimal because of your age and current health. But going out shopping or to any public place could infect the 80-year-old out to pick up his medications and spell disaster for him.

Final Thoughts on the Coronavirus

While you should stay informed about the coronavirus and its spread, panic and fear aren’t necessary. Take precautions when out and about. If you notice someone coughing stay at least three feet away from them. Make sure to be vigilant about washing your hands and not touching your face.

If you do begin to feel ill, stay home. The best way to prevent spreading the coronavirus is to avoid being around others while you recover. If symptoms become severe or you are struggling to breathe seek medical help.