Antibody: Specific proteins in the blood used by the immune system to attack viruses and diseases in order to heal the body.
Asymptomatic: Someone who has an infection without ever showing symptoms.
Community transmission: Community transmission refers to cases in which a disease is circulating among people within a certain area who a) did not travel to an affected area, and b) have no close link to another confirmed case. Community transmission suggests the virus is spreading within a location in ways health officials have trouble tracking and containing.
Coronavirus: This term refers to a family of seven known viruses that can infect people. They range from coronaviruses that simply cause a common cold to the form that causes severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS-CoV), which emerged in Asia in 2002, and the even-deadlier Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS-CoV), which appeared in 2012. The name comes from the fact that under a microscope, the virus looks like a blob surrounded by crownlike spikes, a "corona."
COVID-19: The new coronavirus itself is officially named SARS-CoV-2. The disease the virus causes in people—the fever, coughing, shortness of breath and, in severe cases, pneumonia and death—is named COVID-19. SARS-CoV-2 causes COVID-19.
Epidemic: Widespread illness in one region or community.
Flatten the curve: Slowing the rate of infection among people so hospitals can treat fewer people over time.
Herd immunity: When a contagious virus or disease becomes largely inactive because a population of people have become immune, usually thanks to a vaccine.
Incubation period: The time it takes between catching a virus and feeling sick from it.
N95 respirator: A special protective mask that filters out tiny particles and pathogens to protect the wearer from contracting a disease.
Novel strain: A new type of virus.
Outbreak: When many people in a localized area suddenly become ill.
Pandemic: Widespread illness around the world.
PPE: An acronym for personal protective equipment. It describes the special masks, clothing, and gloves worn by care providers to shield them from contagious illnesses.
Presymptomatic: Someone who has been infected with a virus but isn't yet showing symptoms.
Quarantine: Restricting the movement of people who seem healthy but may have been exposed to the virus is referred to as a quarantine. Americans who were evacuated from Wuhan and cruise ships, for example, were kept in strict quarantine on military bases for 14 days, which is what experts believe is the virus’s incubation period.
Self-isolation: Separating oneself from others because you are sick.
Self-quarantine: Separating oneself from others because you have been exposed to a sick person.
Shelter-in-place: Used as a safety measure after an emergency, this is an order from the government for citizens to stay at home, leaving only to get necessities like food and medicine.
Social distancing: The act of increasing physical space between people to decrease the spread of an illness. (In the case of COVID-19, social distancing of at least six feet is recommended.)
Super spreader: A person who transmits a virus to many more people than average.
Surgical mask: A disposable face mask worn by health professionals to prevent saliva or mucus from coming out or going in.
Underlying conditions: Chronic health conditions not caused by a current virus. (For example, diabetes, heart and kidney diseases, and obesity are all underlying conditions.)
*Excerpted from The Washington Post.