COVID 19, the pandemic that has gripped the world and turned it upside-down is the talk of the town ever since the commencement of the year 2020. Be it little kids or aged folk, everyone is familiar with what the coronavirus is and the kind of havoc it has created. From complete shutdowns to lockdowns to containment the year 2020 has given us an eye-full of how a pandemic can bring life itself to a standstill. Although a lot of research is being put into how best this disease can be tackled and dealt with, none of the nations have been able to come up with a permanent solution to put an end to this highly contagious viral disease. The primary analysis was such that the disease spreads mainly through bodily fluids but off late it is being increasingly concluded that to an extent the disease can be spread through the air especially indoor air. In this article, we will discuss the same and how it can be avoided or contained.
What Are Pathogens?
Pathogens can be termed as microorganisms that cause and spread diseases through various transmission modes. What pathogens do is they enter a host body and stick onto it for survival. The human body is naturally blessed with a defense mechanism termed as the immune system which can ward off the attacks by these pathogens but once they enter the body they can disrupt the responses by the immune system and make the host unwell. Virus, bacteria, fungi are some of the most common pathogens that invade human and animal territory and transmit infectious diseases. Once a pathogen thrives on a host and spreads, it then exits the said host and then moves on in search of another host. In the case of the disease COVID 19 that is being spread across the world currently, the infection causing pathogen is termed as the novel coronavirus which is a large group of viruses. It can infect both humans and animals.
Modes Of Transmission of Pathogenic Diseases
Pathogens can spread diseases through both direct as well as indirect contact with an infected person. When one speaks of direct contact it refers to being directly in contact with the bodily fluids of a person who is a host to the infectious pathogen. Such transmission can occur when the infected person sneezes, coughs, shakes hands, etc as well as through sexual transmission. Pregnant women can also transmit some diseases through their placenta to their unborn child. Spreading of pathogenic diseases through indirect contact refers to contracting the diseases through contaminated water, food, air, through contaminated surfaces, insects, through the environment, animal shelters, etc.
Is Coronavirus Airborne?
In the case of any disease, it is important to determine the mode of transmission to alert the public and avoid the spreading of the disease as well as the risks associated with it. Although there has been no concrete proof that shows that the COVID 19 is an airborne illness, scientists the world over have stated that this possibility cannot be overlooked. Mainly due to the alarming and unprecedented rate at which this virus has spread across continents, scientists claim that there is an increasing chance that the COVID 19 can also spread through the air and not through droplets alone. A primary finding has been that these large groups of viruses spread mainly through bodily fluids like saliva when a person coughs, sneezes, sings, or talks, and when these droplets come in contact with a healthy person’s nose and mouth they get infected. It has also been advised to not touch or rub the eyes whilst the pandemic is so widespread unless one washes their hands thoroughly using soap and water to kill the disease-causing virus.
When one speaks of airborne transmission what they are referring to is the capability of minute droplets called aerosols suspended in the air to spread infectious diseases. These much smaller droplets traverse greater distances as well as remain suspended in the air for longer periods as compared to larger size droplets and hence prove to be more contagious. The same has been pointed out in the case of the coronavirus through various studies and related findings. Some findings to substantiate the same are as follows:
- It has been found that the COVID 19 causing coronavirus by the name of SARS-CoV-2 can linger in the air for over 4 hours without resting upon a host.
- The Chinese city Wuhan where the pandemic broke out, tests conducted in 2 hospitals where aerosols samples where taken within the hospital premises, genetic material from coronavirus were detected.
- Off-late social gatherings akin to wedding parties, birthday parties with limited participants where almost all protocols were followed in strict adherence also saw a rising case where the disease got spread amongst participants despite the measures that were followed. Cases were also reported where they been fatalities.
- In the US, one case was reported where participants of a choir group got infected even though social distancing was maintained at all times. Another case in China was reported where diners at a restaurant got infected who were all seated under a single air conditioning unit which all points towards the fact that COVID 19 could be transmitted through the air to an extent.
Precautions To Take To Avoid Airborne Pathogens
Bearing in mind that one cannot completely avoid diseases caused through airborne transmission; adapting certain measures can surely help reduce massive spread to a great extent. Let us take a look at some precautionary measures below:
- First and foremost, if you are sick stay at home, take the prescribed medications, and get ample rest.
- Avoid close contact with infected people. Maintain safe distance at all times.
- Wear a face mask at all times when in public to prevent the pathogen from entering our system through the nose and mouth as well as to prevent spreading it. Never reuse a disposable face-mask and dispose of it properly.
- Cough into the sides of clenched fists or onto the elbows.
- Sneeze using a tissue or into a towel and dispose of it hygienically.
- Avoid touching the face frequently, avoid handshakes, and wash hands thoroughly using soap and water. When outside keep handy a hand sanitizer to use whenever required.
- Get timely vaccinations to avoid contracting major airborne illnesses like diphtheria, chickenpox, influenza, measles, and others.
- Strictly adhere to government policies in times of pandemic and venture out only if absolutely necessary.
- Avoid social gatherings and organizing parties etc.
- Whilst outside maintain social distancing.
Airborne diseases are a natural occurrence and it cannot be completed avoided. Although COVID 19 cannot be entirely categorized under airborne disease, we cannot overlook the fact that it could be an underlying cause too especially if caution is not being practiced. Along with the compliance of government rules and health care advisories, one must take it upon themselves to think and act responsibly too during such pandemic outbreaks. Not only will this keep us and our loved ones safe but also help us uphold our social responsibilities as well. Spreading community awareness also plays a key role in curbing not just the spread of the disease but it also reduces risk factors associated with the disease as well as considerably reduces fatalities too. So, practice precautions, stay vigilant, and know that any airborne illness can be tackled provided the community at large acknowledges the sacrifices of front line heroes, and supports their cause by staying at home, awaiting a disease-free tomorrow.