A coronavirus is a common type of virus that causes an infection of the nose, sinuses or throat. Most coronaviruses are not dangerous.
However, some types of coronavirus are severe. About 858 people died from Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MRS), which first appeared in 2012 in Saudi Arabia and then in other countries in the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Europe. In April 2014, the first American was hospitalized for MERS in Indiana and another case was reported in Florida.
Both had just returned from Saudi Arabia. In May 2015, an outbreak of MERS broke out in Korea, the largest outside the Arabian Peninsula. In 2003, 774 people died from an outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). In 2015, no other cases of SARS were reported.
But in early 2020, following the December 2019 outbreak in China, the World Health Organization identified a new type, the new coronavirus 2019 (2019-nCoV).
Often, a coronavirus causes symptoms of upper respiratory tract infection such as nasal congestion, cough and sore throat. You can treat them with rest and over-the-counter medications. Coronavirus can also cause middle ear infections in children.
What is a coronavirus?
Coronaviruses were first identified in the 1960s, but we do not know where they come from. They take their name from their crown shape. Sometimes, but not often, a coronavirus can infect both animals and humans.
Most coronaviruses spread in the same way as other cold-responsible viruses: by coughing and sneezing infected people, by contact with the hands or face of an infected person, or by contact with objects such as door handles that infected people have touched.
Almost everyone is infected with a coronavirus at least once in their lifetime, most often as a child. In the United States, coronaviruses are more common in the fall and winter, but anyone can get a coronavirus infection at any time.