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Coronavirus outbreak raises question: what is difference between coronavirus and parainfluenza

Anna Shi
25 марта 2020

Quite often the cause of infection is coronavirus, leading to the infection as often as adenoviruses, parainfluenza viruses, coronaviruses are important human and animal pathogens. Their symptoms are quite similar, the differences do not appear immediately. But this is not the point. The main thing is to prevent complications, and this is the work of the doctor, not the patient. A person should just follow the recommendations.

First, you need to deal with the terms. Coronavirus, SARS — all these are viral infections of the upper respiratory tract, which are just a little different. ARVI, or the common cold, is called infection caused by certain groups of viruses - adenoviruses, rhinoviruses, enteroviruses and others. Coronaviruses, by the way, also belong here - that is, strictly speaking, and novel COVID-19 falls into the category of SARS. Influenza causes a special group of viruses of certain strains.

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1. What is the difference between influenza and SARS

A cold is usually a cough, runny nose, stuffy nose, less commonly, a sore throat and fever. In this case, the symptoms develop slowly, do not occur suddenly. Serious complications, as a rule, do not occur. Influenza, on the contrary, appears abruptly - and, as a rule, a person’s temperature rises immediately. A runny nose is not so characteristic for him - typical symptoms are headaches, cough, body aches, fatigue, chills. In addition, the flu is more dangerous due to the complications that it can cause. Among them are rhinitis, otitis media, meningitis, pneumonia.

That is, a cold is usually more “small-town”, while the flu makes the whole body respond to the infection. And this partly resembles COVID-19. We can say that the new Chinese coronavirus partially combined the symptoms common to colds and parainfluenza, and that is why it is not so easy to distinguish it. Temperature, dry cough, weakness in the body and the formation of sputum in the throat - these, according to the World Health Organization, are the most common symptoms of COVID-19. They do not solve the problem of identifying it, since they also occur in the common cold and flu.

2. How coronavirus differs from parainfluenza

In the early stages of the disease, COVID-19 is really very difficult to recognize. However, it is still easier to distinguish it from a cold than from parainfluenza: after the temperature, the whole body begins to suffer of myalgia, chills, aches, for example, a cold can be eliminated immediately. Unlike the parainfluenza.

“Unfortunately, there is no reliable way to distinguish between the early symptoms of influenza and coronavirus. The only way to do this is through a diagnostic test at the clinic, ”says infectious disease specialist Amesh Adaglia from Johns Hopkins University Health Safety Center in the USA.

Here are typical symptoms of the flu: fever / chills, cough, sore throat, runny nose, body aches, headaches, fatigue. Here are the symptoms of the coronavirus from Wuhan: fever, cough, weakness, shortness of breath, aches, headaches, chills, nausea. Most, as you see, intersect. Differences arise already at the stage when the infection proceeds to the next stage — in the case of COVID-19, this most often means possible pneumonia. Influenza can also lead to it, but still not so fast — in the "heavy" part of coronavirus infected pneumonia appeared already 9-14 days after infection and was preceded by respiratory failure, that is, shortness of breath.

This is due to the nature of COVID-19 — with it, the space between the pulmonary alveoli is quickly filled with fluid, and ultimately the person has nothing to breathe. If the situation is started, then the notorious ventilator will be needed, about which they are now shouting at every corner about the “deficit”. Meanwhile, if the doctors managed to recognize the virus on time, no mechanical ventilation is most often needed, and the usual methods of treatment for pneumonia will suffice.

In general, the main difference between COVID-19 and the flu can, and even then with a stretch, be called shortness of breath. But for many infected, it never arises, which is only for the best. There is no shortness of breath, it breathes normally - you should not insist on a coronavirus test. Despite the fact that the first signs of a new type of coronavirus are in many respects similar to parainfluenza, there are several atypical indicators. This was reported by the Japanese television channel NHK.

So, with coronavirus in the later stages, the temperature rises and a cough appears. But at the very beginning, the pneumonia caused by the new virus can occur atypically. An example is one of the infected people in China who had no fever for several days but started diarrhea. The presence of a dangerous disease was established only with the help of additional analyzes and the patient’s story about contact with the infected. It was later found that among the first symptoms of the new coronavirus, there may be not only digestive problems, but also headaches with nausea and general weakness.

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3. Parainfluenza types

Parainfluenza viruses are paramyxoviruses and are classified as types 1, 2, 3 and 4. They have antigenic cross-reactivity, but tend to cause diseases of varying severity. Type 4 has antigenic cross-reactivity with mumps virus and is a rare cause of respiratory illness requiring medical attention. Outbreaks of viral infections caused by parainfluenza can occur in kindergartens, pediatric wards and schools. Types 1 and 2 tend to cause epidemics in the fall, with each serotype occurring in different years. Type 3 disease is endemic and affects most children under the age of 1 year; Incidence increases in spring.

Parainfluenza viruses can cause re-infections, but reinfection usually causes milder illnesses. Thus, in immunocompetent adults, most infections are asymptomatic or mild. The most common disease in children is upper respiratory disease without fever or a slight increase in temperature.

Type 1 parainfluenza is a common cause of croup (laryngotracheobronchitis), mainly in children aged 6 to 36 months. Croup begins with symptoms of a cold. Later, fever, barking cough, hoarseness and stridor appear. Respiratory failure due to obstruction of the upper respiratory tract is a rare but potentially fatal complication. Parainfluenza type 2 can cause a similar disease, but usually it is less severe.

Type 3 parainfluenza virus can cause pneumonia and bronchiolitis in young children and immunocompromised children and adults. These diseases are usually indistinguishable from diseases caused by the respiratory syncytial virus, but are often less serious.

Typically, a specific viral diagnosis is not clinically needed, but it can help distinguish a viral infection from parainfluenza from a bacterial infection in patients with severe lower respiratory tract disease. The virus can be detected by polymerase chain reaction, usually using a multiplex panel of common respiratory pathogens. Treatment for viral parainfluenza infection is symptomatic.

Pneumonia of unknown origin began to spread in the Chinese city of Wuhan (Hubei Province). According to the preliminary version, the causative agent of a dangerous illness is the type of coronavirus 2019-nCoV. Chinese authorities have officially confirmed that the virus can be transmitted from person to person.

As of March 25, 2020, have been confirmed coronavirus cases: 434,568, confirmed deaths 19,602. Confirmed cases in USA: 54,941, confirmed deaths 784, based on Worldometers.

#2019 ncov #2019-nCoV #COVID-19 #Flu #Human coronavirus #Pandemic #Parainfluenza #SARS #SARS-CoV-2 #WHO

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