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Overview

According to the World Health Organization (WHO),1 Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of enveloped viruses which are known to cause illnesses ranging from the common cold, to the more severe illnesses such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). The coronavirus responsible for COVID-19 has been named SARS-CoV-2.2

Coronaviruses are zoonotic,3 meaning they are initially transmitted between animals and people, and these type of viruses are named for the crown-like spikes (or “coronas”) on their surface4 when viewed under an electron microscope. Human coronaviruses were first identified in the mid-1960s, and with the recent identification of the virus responsible for COVID-19, there are now seven known strains of human coronaviruses which can infect people.4

Most coronaviruses are not life threatening, and people around the world commonly get infected every year with one of the four known human strains of coronaviruses which cause the common cold.4 The COVID-19 strain is being monitored closely as a potentially more serious strain of human coronavirus similar to the strain identified as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV)5, which was responsible for an outbreak which started in Saudi Arabia in 2012, and the strain identified as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV)6, which was responsible for an outbreak which started in China in 2003.

 

COVID-19

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),the virus responsible for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a new virus which has been identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness.

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Influenza

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Influenza (flu) is a contagious respiratory illness which is caused by influenza viruses and that affects the nose...throat and sometimes lungs.ss.

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Hepatitis A (HAV)

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Hepatitis A is a vaccine-preventable, communicable disease of the liver caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV). The virus is usually transmitted person-to-person through the fecal-oral route or through consumption of contaminated food or water.

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  1. World Health Organization (WHO) website, Q&A On Coronaviruses, updated March 9, 2020
  2. World Health Organization website, Naming the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and the virus that causes it, reviewed February 11, 2020
  3. World Health Organization (WHO) website, Coronavirus, updated April 5, 2020
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website, Human Coronavirus Types, reviewed February 15, 2020
  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), updated August 2, 2019
  6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), updated December 6, 2017