Answers ( 2 )

  1. There were two questions asked, quite different, which were merged. This answer is to the how and why it happened and not the how it spreads.

    There are multiple viral-breeding pockets in China. They are enabled by low levels of the trace element selenium in the soil. This is a geographical feature, not unique to China. But in China, these regions are highly populated with both people and animals.

    Estimates for China’s selenium deficiency range from 51% of the entire country (recent) to 72% (the WHO estimate). Those regions with the greatest Se deficiencies, and the greatest populations of both humans and animals, have several disease risks. The one that is most well documented in humans, I believe, is Keshan disease, an endemic dilated cardiomyopathy. Animals also exhibit Se-deficiency endemic diseases. And it’s not just about China. White muscle disease in goats and sheep is a problem in New Zealand, and Michigan. Fortunately for those in the USA, there is a large high-selenium region in the northern plain states (east of the Rockies and west of the Mississippi; South Dakota is it’s capitol) and it grows produce (lots of grain) for the selenium-deficient areas of the USA, like the Pacific northwest, the Great Lakes states, the Atlantic northeast and the Atlantic coast. So the human selenium status in the USA is fair to middling. [Grain grown in eastern Washington and Oregon has low selenium. These Cascade range has basalt instead of the granite of the Rockies.]

    China’s selenium-deficient areas have very dense human and animal populations. This results in (1) increased viral virulence in both animal and humans, (2) increased viral susceptibility in both animals and humans, and (3) a high rate of cross-over of animal viruses to humans. This combination is why the majority of nasty viruses come out of China.

    There is also a large selenium-depleted region of Africa. This is where the Ebola viral outbreaks are occurring.

    The good news is that these virulent virus attenuate (weaken) after they arrive in a selenium-replete area. Each time the virus passes from selenium-replete person to selenium-replete person, it becomes less lethal. This has been observed experimentally in animals for close to a century, but it has not become part of public health policy yet. Fortunately, selenium supplements are not on the FDA’s current list of supplements to be banned in the near future.

  2. The scary part of the newly found coronavirus is that it will stay in hibernation for a while (7–12 days) before you exhibit symptoms. This is why it is so hard to contain when the virus first show itself at the beginning of 2020—those infected don’t know they are infected and there are no way to tell.

    As a result some of the “first wave” infected patients travelled around China and around the world without everyone noticing. Only after they started to cough and have fever had the medics noticed that something is going on.

    Here’s a diagram showing how many are infected and dead:

    The virus has already spread to a number of provinces in China and overseas.

    crimson: >100 cases

    red: 10–100 cases

    orange: 1–9 cases

    carnation: suspected cases

    white: no case reported

    *please, please, please don’t put too much stress on the Taiwan and SCS map, it’s politically correct to display them on maps in China.

    Thankfully, the center of the outbreak, Wuhan city, is under a lockdown, so let’s hope this can contain the spread of these viruses. Plus, as we internet is spreading every updates about the virus, people are actively adopting precautious measures.

    However, the spread of the virus within China is likely, especially in neighboring provinces.

    Update:

    The diagram above was taken on January 23, 2020.

    Confirmed cases and death tolls have risen since. Although this particular virus is weaker than SARS, the amount of people that it might contaminate, especially during this season of “the largest human migration in the world”, is estimated to be further higher.

    To all of you who are in China or near China, put on surgical masks if you feel it is necessary when being with large crowds, wash your hands from time to time, and go to your local hospital if you are feeling unwell. Do not buy into fearmongering rumors, verify your sources via trustworthy media and the WHO

    Stay safe.

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