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Coronavirus diseases

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Structural view of a coronavirus

Coronavirus diseases are caused by viruses in the coronavirus subfamily, a group of related RNA viruses that cause diseases in mammals and birds. In humans and birds, the group of viruses cause respiratory tract infections that can range from mild to lethal. Mild illnesses in humans include some cases of the common cold (which is also caused by other viruses, predominantly rhinoviruses),[1][2] while more lethal varieties can cause SARS, MERS and COVID-19.[3][4] As of 2021, 45 species are registered as coronaviruses,[5] whilst 11 diseases have been identified, as listed below.

Coronaviruses are known for their shape resembling a stellar corona, such as that of the Sun visible during a total solar eclipse; corona is derived from Latin corōna 'garland, wreath, crown'.[6] It was coined by Tony Waterson (professor of virology at St Thomas' Hospital)[7][8][9] in a meeting with his colleagues June Almeida and David Tyrrell, the founding fathers of coronavirus studies, and was first used in a Nature article in 1968,[10] with approval by the International Committee for the Nomenclature of Viruses three years later.[11]

The first coronavirus disease was discovered in the late 1920s. Coronaviridae were generally of limited interest to the wider scientific community, until the appearance of SARS. Human coronaviruses were discovered in the 1960s, through a variety of experiments in the United States and the United Kingdom.[12] A common origin in human coronaviruses is bats.[13]


Coronavirus diseases
Host organism Disease Pathogen Year of Discovery Details
Birds Avian infectious bronchitis Avian coronavirus (IBV) 1920s[14] (isolated in 1938)[15] Discovered in North America.[14]
Pigs, dogs, cats Enteritis Transmissible gastroenteritis virus (TGEV) 1946 (isolated in 1965)[16] Infects pigs,[16] cats,[17] and dogs.[18]
Humans Common cold Human coronavirus 229E (HCoV‑229E) 1930s (isolated in 1965)[19] Possibly originated from bats.[20]
Mice, rats Encephalitis MHV-JHM, a strain of murine coronavirus (M‑CoV) named after John Howard Mueller.[21] 1949[22]
Humans Common cold Human coronavirus OC43 (HCoV‑OC43) 1967[23] Possibly originated from rodents, then jumped through cattle to humans.[24]
Pigs Enteritis Porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) 1971[25] Infects pigs.
Caused outbreaks in 1972[26] and 1978,[27] 2010, 2013, 2014, and 2015.[28]
Dogs Enteritis Canine coronavirus (CCoV) 1971
Cats Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) Feline coronavirus (FCoV)
Cattle Enteritis Bovine coronavirus (BCV or BCoV)
Humans Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS‑CoV or SARS‑CoV‑1), a strain of severe acute respiratory syndrome–related coronavirus (SARSr‑CoV) 2002 Discovered in Foshan, China.[29]
Caused the 2002–2004 SARS outbreak.
Possibly originated from horseshoe bats.[30]
Humans Common cold Human coronavirus HKU1 (HCoV‑HKU1) 2004 Discovered in Hong Kong, China.[31]
Humans Common cold Human coronavirus NL63 (HCoV‑NL63) 2004 Discovered in Amsterdam, Netherlands.[32]
Possibly originated from tricolored bats.[33]
Chinese bulbuls Bulbul coronavirus HKU11 (BulbulCoV‑HKU11) 2008 Discovered in Hong Kong, China.[34][35]
Humans Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) Middle East respiratory syndrome–related coronavirus (MERS‑CoV) 2012 Discovered in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.[36]
Caused outbreaks in 2012, 2015, and 2018.
Pigs Enteritis Porcine coronavirus HKU15 (PorCov‑HKU15) 2014 Discovered in Hong Kong, China.[37]
Humans Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID‑19) Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS‑CoV‑2), a strain of SARSr‑CoV 2019 Discovered in Wuhan, China.[38][39]
Caused the COVID-19 pandemic.
Possibly originated from pangolins, horseshoe bats, or both.[40]

See also[edit]


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