The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Coronavirus and flu have similar symptoms

Photo by via Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The CDC is shipping test kits to designated qualified laboratories, including state and local laboratories, Department of Defense laboratories and select international laboratories.

Coronavirus (COVID-19), the illness that has caused thousands of deaths and significant concern around the world, and seasonal influenza have many similarities. However, the two are caused by different viruses.
Numerous medical studies show the death rates between the two viruses may not be much different in the end, with coronavirus having more similarities to the flu than to other outbreaks of deadly diseases, such as SARS or MERS, according to the New England Journal of Medicine. The Journal states seasonal flu has a death rate of about 0.1 percent, while much of the reporting on coronavirus has stated the death rate at 3.4 percent.
However, research finds cases of coronavirus with few or no symptoms likely go unreported, making the total number of cases higher and bringing the death rate below one percent. In comparison, SARS, the most recent deadly virus to emerge from China before coronavirus, had a death rate of around 10 percent.
Symptomatically, the flu and coronavirus can appear very similar, according to Johns Hopkins University’s medical unit. Both cause fever, cough, body aches and fatigue with occasional vomiting and diarrhea.
Where they differ most is in transmission and treatment. According to the New York Times, each person infected with coronavirus passes it along to an average of 2.2 other people, compared with 1.3 for the flu. In terms of transmission method, Johns Hopkins reports that there is a chance coronavirus can be airborne, infecting people from tiny droplets of virus that remain in the air, something that does not occur with the flu. The flu can be treated through vaccines and antiviral medications, while neither method exists for the coronavirus.
Preventive techniques for seasonal flu are something many people are familiar with, but the same procedures do not currently exist for coronavirus, Amy Smith, senior vice president and chief marketing and communications officer for Texas A&M, said it is crucial not to panic because the risk is minimal.
“We are emphasizing the importance of not being alarmist but getting accurate info,” Smith said. “What is good now, as opposed to in previous outbreaks such as SARS, is that we have access to social media and ways of sharing info much faster than before.”
Despite the high publicity coronavirus has garnered, there are still significantly fewer cases worldwide than the average flu season. According to Johns Hopkins, there are currently 92,818 cases of it worldwide (as of March 3), while there are an estimated one billion flu cases worldwide, with up to 45 million cases in the United States annually.
Smith said with the flu the Student Health Service is the main department informing the campus community, and the university-wide communications department will periodically reinforce SHS’ messaging. However, with the coronavirus, the response is spread across Residence Life, Education Abroad and the general community.
“We’re working together on this because there’s a spirit of service in the ethos of who we are as Aggies,” Smith said. “We are doers and solve problems, and that’s what we’re doing now.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the best way to combat the spread of coronavirus is to wash your hands often with soap and water; if that isn’t possible, use hand sanitizer. CDC also emphasizes that facemasks should not be worn by healthy people and should only be used by healthcare workers or people who show symptoms of the illness.

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