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Debunking the Myths About COVID-19


2020/04/05

Compiled by Nancy Brannon, Ph.D.

In these times of a global health crisis, it is imperative that people get correct, factual information about the disease and how to protect themselves. Following the principle of responsible journalism, the Mid-South Horse Review will fact-check and disseminate reliable information about the disease. In addition, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has launched a website to knock down the rumors and falsehoods that have been spreading along with the coronavirus pandemic: Coronavirus Rumor Control: www.fema.gov/coronavirus-rumor-control 

FIRST: the disease is called COVID-19, novel coronavirus – NOT Chinese virus, although it is true that it was first reported in Wuhan, China in December 2019. The World Health Organization says, “Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus.”

The name of the virus comes from the crownlike spikes the virus has on its surface — "corona" is Latin for "crown." The particular virus that causes the disease COVID-19, officially known as SARS-CoV-2, is only the third strain of coronavirus known to frequently cause severe symptoms in humans.

The primary symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough and shortness of breath. Some people also experience fatigue, headaches and, less frequently, diarrhea. Cases can range from mild to moderate to severe. About 80% of cases so far seem to be mild, according to the World Health Organization.

According to Frank Esper, MD, pediatric infectious disease specialist at the Cleveland Clinic, to better understand this coronavirus, we should take a closer look at other strains, viewing them categorically as “old” and “new” in terms of how long they have been infecting humans. The older human coronaviruses were first identified in the mid-1960s, but have likely circulated in humans for centuries. Dr. Esper refers to the newer coronaviruses as “true emerging infectious diseases.” These include SARS-CoV (SARS), MERS-CoV (MERS) and, of course, SARS-Cov-2. He explains, “These are strains that have undergone recent animal-to-human transition.”

Research indicates that the virus may be zoonotic in origin. Coronaviruses can originate in animals — like camels, civets and bats — but are usually not transmissible to humans. Occasionally a coronavirus mutates and can pass from animals to humans and then from human to human.

Rothan and Byrareddy, in “The epidemiology and pathogenesis of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak,” state: “Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is caused by SARS-COV2 and represents the causative agent of a potentially fatal disease that is of great global public health concern. Based on the large number of infected people that were exposed to the wet animal market in Wuhan City, China, it is suggested that this is likely the zoonotic origin of COVID-19.”

In the Journal of Virology, the authors of an article “Evidence Supporting a Zoonotic Origin of Human Coronavirus Strain NL63” looked at the relationship between bats and coronaviruses. Read the article at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3497669/

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. Some coronaviruses cause cold-like illnesses in people, while others cause illness in certain types of animals, such as cattle, camels, and bats. Some coronaviruses, such as canine and feline coronaviruses, only infect animals and do not infect humans. (source: CDC.gov)
 
SECOND: Do not self-medicate. An Arizona man is dead and his wife hospitalized after the couple ingested chloroquine phosphate, an additive commonly used to clean fish tanks at aquariums. This is NOT the same as the medication that has been used in the past to treat malaria. The couple thought they were finding a way to treat COVID-19.

There is a chemical called hydroxychloroquine, which is used to treat acute attacks of malaria (it does not work against certain types of malaria that are chloroquine-resistant), lupus erythematosus, and rheumatoid arthritis. But, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), said that, currently, it is NOT considered a treatment for COVID-19. Clinical studies of drugs against COVID-19 are in the beginning stages, according to the FDA.

Read more about this at: https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/03/23/820228658/why-hoarding-of-hydroxychloroquine-needs-to-stop

THIRD: Stay informed and do not pass on rumors or misinformation. Employ your critical thinking skills to examine and fact-check information that others pass on to you.

To find out where the coronavirus is spreading, NPR provides regular updates tracking the spread of the coronavirus in the U.S. at: https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/03/16/816707182/map-tracking-the-spread-of-the-coronavirus-in-the-u-s

Also on this web page, find information about the symptoms that this strain of the virus causes, how to prevent the spread of the virus, and what to do if you think you are sick.

Read more about the spread of the disease globally from the World Health Organization (WHO) at https://www.who.int/ and what can be done to stop the spread at this article: https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2020/03/23/820290984/coronavirus-who-head-says-nations-must-attack-as-pandemic-is-accelerating

The CDC website is an excellent source of information about the coronavirus: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

To prevent the coronavirus from spreading, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using a hand sanitizer if soap and water aren't available. The WHO says people should wear face masks only if they're sick or caring for someone who is.

If you think you've been exposed to the coronavirus and develop symptoms, call your doctor – before you go to the doctor's office so your doctor can take necessary precautions.

Wash your hands as soon as you walk through the door. Avoid sharing personal items such as dishes, cups and utensils. Clean and disinfect "high-touch" surfaces like door handles and cellphones every day.

The virus is thought to spread mainly between people who are in close proximity to one another: within about 6 feet. It spreads primarily through respiratory droplets that are dispersed when an infected person coughs or sneezes, which can land in the mouth or nose of someone nearby and possibly infect that person.

According to the CDC, it may be possible for people to become infected by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or eyes. But experts believe the virus spreads mostly through contact with other people.

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