This Week's Herman Trend Alert

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  The Herman Trend Alert

February 5, 2020

The Coronavirus Pandemic

By now, most of us have heard about the latest biological attack on humanity: The Novel CoronaVirus.

What is the Coronavirus?
Technically called nCoV-19, the Novel Coronavirus, 2019 is in the same family as SARS and MERS. About 70 percent of its genetic makeup is related to SARS and this particular virus has never before been seen in humans. It is believed to be a Zoonotic disease; which means that it originated in infected animals (probably snakes) and through a complicated process crossed over to at least one human host. From there, humans infected one-another, and the disease spread.

How the Disease Spreads
Similar to SARS and MERS, Coronavirus spreads through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how influenza and other respiratory pathogens proliferate. The United States Center for Disease Control estimates that the current incubation and infection time is estimated to be between 2 and 14 days. What this estimate means is that you can be infected and spreading the virus and not show any symptoms. Symptoms include fever, dry cough, shortness of breath, and other trouble breathing caused by viral pneumonia.

The Story of an Pandemic
First detected mid-December in the Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan, China, for a few weeks, the number of cases remained small. At that time, public health officials believed direct exposure was necessary to spread the disease; thus they believed that only animal exposure in the market was responsible. However, now that the number has increased significantly, it is obvious that there is critical human-to-human transmission. The World Health Organization has declared novel coronavirus a global health emergency. At this writing, there are almost 25,000 confirmed cases in more than two dozen countries.

The Good News
Currently the origin of the outbreak is under quarantine, but the virus has spread very quickly. Some nations, including the United States have taken steps to quarantine people arriving from the infected areas.

Worse than SARS But Not the Perennial Flu
Though SARS had a higher mortality rate than the novel coronavirus (2.1 percent versus 9.6 percent), it was actually responsible for fewer deaths in China than SARS (already 361 versus 349). In the US alone, the common flu killed 80,000 people last year in 2019.

Do Not Be a Statistic
Obviously it is always good advice to wash your hands well and often. Keep yourself healthy by eating nutritious foods (not fast or other highly processed foods), sleeping a sufficient number of hours, and getting enough exercise. When you are going to be on an airplane, you might want to consider wearing a mask? (I am flying to Africa next Saturday, and I plan to do so.)

Coronavirus Will Not Be the Last
As we warned in our last Herman Trend Alert about superbugs, this virus will not be the last. Whether Ebola, SARS, MERS, or H1N1, we have witnessed the zoonotic nature of diseases; the jump to a human host will likely happen again. So please, stay away from markets with wild animals, including bats, snakes, monkeys, chimpanzees, and others.

Technology Responds
Later this month, the global crowdfunding, venture investing platform OurCrowd will feature Dr. Ferid Murad, a Nobel prize winner in medicine. Dr, Murad will talk about the new product SaNOtize that uses the unique antimicrobial and immune-modulating properties of Nitric Oxide to treat skin and respiratory systems diseases. This revolutionary, non-antibiotic platform technology can not only treat topical infections and multifactorial diseases, including diseases caused by drug resistant microbes, but it can help prevent them as well. And the best news is that using this product will allow doctors to avoid the use of antibiotics. Kudos once again to OurCrowd for supporting this breakthrough and other products like it.

Special thanks to Dr. Kate Huyvaert from Colorado State University for nurturing my interest in wildlife disease ecology and infectious diseases. For a map where Coronavirus has been confirmed as of February 5th, visit here.

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