How COVID-19 Affects the Body
MEDICAL ANIMATION TRANSCRIPT: COVID-19 is the short name for the disease known as novel coronavirus disease 2019. Coronaviruses are a large group of similar viruses. Some are known to infect humans, such as SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV. The one that causes COVID-19 is called SARS-CoV-2. All coronaviruses are named for the crown-like “spikes” that cover their surface, called spike, or “S,” proteins. Inside the virus, genetic material, called RNA, is made up of genes. Genes carry the information to make more copies of the virus. The virus can infect you if it enters your mouth, nose, or lungs. Inside your body, the S protein of the virus locks to a receptor on the surface of one of your cells. This can trigger the virus to enter the cell in a couple of ways. It may cause the virus to fuse with the cell surface, then release its genes into the cell. Or, the cell may pull the virus inside by enclosing it in a sac. Once inside, the virus can fuse to the sac and release its genes. Next, the genes use a structure in your cell, called a ribosome, to make new copies of the virus. The new viruses travel to the surface of the cell. There, they can leave to infect more cells. In the meantime, viral S proteins left on the surface of the infected cell can cause it to fuse with nearby healthy cells, forming a giant cell. This may be another way for the virus to spread between cells. People may be infected with COVID-19 for two to fourteen days before symptoms appear. The three main symptoms of COVID-19 are: a fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Other symptoms may include: tiredness, body aches, stuffy nose, sore throat, diarrhea and vomiting, loss of appetite, and loss of smell. Most people have a mild illness and can recover at home. Some people who have the virus may not get sick at all or may show no symptoms. But, if you have trouble breathing, or any other symptoms that are severe, call your doctor or the emergency room. They will tell you what to do. For most people who have the virus, the risk for serious illness is thought to be low. People sixty-five years and older may have a higher risk for serious illness. And, people of any age may be at high-risk if they have underlying conditions, such as: chronic lung disease or asthma; serious heart conditions; diabetes; severe obesity; chronic kidney disease, and liver disease. High-risk groups also include people with a weakened immune system, including: those on certain medications, such as corticosteroids; people in cancer treatment; and those with HIV or AIDS. Even if you aren’t in a high-risk group, it’s important to practice social distancing, which means keeping at least two meters, or six feet, between you and other people. This helps prevent infections and serious illness in others as well as yourself. For up-to-date information about COVID-19 and other ways to prevent its spread, visit the CDC website.
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