During the first week of infection, these patients may develop unsettling symptoms that do not necessarily require hospitalization. But by week two, these symptoms turn potentially life-threatening, requiring immediate attention by medical professionals.
This is what reportedly happened to a woman named Morgan Blue who initially felt weak with a severe backache and fever. She says she went to the hospital but was turned away, only to have to return on day eight of her infection because she felt like she was choking.
"That day, I suddenly couldn't breathe," the 26-year-old customer service representative from Flint, Mich., told The Washington Post.
Blue had to be taken to the hospital by ambulance where she spent eight more days, four of them in intensive care, before recovering and going home. And apparently she is not alone, as others like her are said to be developing similar second-week crash symptoms.
"This second-week crash has certainly been well described," says Ebbing Lautenbach, chief of the division of infectious diseases at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine. "But two-and-a-half months in, why it happens we're still not entirely sure."
Thus far, there is no real consensus as to why this second-week crash, which reportedly appears between days five and 10, strikes unexpectedly in this manner. It only adds to the fear among those who are petrified of catching the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) that they might experience a sudden episode of dramatic symptoms that require immediate attention.
There are a number of theories as to why the second-week crash is even a thing, including speculation about how an individual's genes might play a role in how it develops. It could also be that some people's immune systems overreact to the virus, a phenomenon known as a cytokine storm.
"I've been thinking about this a lot," Naftali Kaminski, chief of pulmonary critical care and sleep medicine at the Yale School of Medicine, is quoted as saying about the second-week crash phenomenon. Kaminski actively studies the genomics of lung disease.
"There's an early stage of infection and the virus sits somewhere. You can almost look at the virus as a fifth column coming in, securing its stronghold and then slowly inducing more cells to let it in," he further contends. "Because of this lurking nature, your genetic makeup and preexisting conditions will affect presentation of the disease."
The good news is that the vast majority of Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) cases never require hospitalization. In fact, many cases never even present symptoms, which means that most of the people who have the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) do not even know that they have it.
The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that only about 29 out of every 100,000 cases of the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) require hospitalization. And only a very small percentage of these require intensive care.
"The people who actually crash, they've actually been sick a while," adds Merceditas Villanueva, an associate professor of medicine at the Yale School of Medicine. "They've underestimated how sick they are, or they've just waited."
To keep up with the latest news about the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19), be sure to check out Pandemic.news.
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