Human Coronaviruses

What are Coronaviruses?

Human coronaviruses are common throughout the world and were first identified in the mid-1960s. Seven different coronaviruses, that scientists know of, can infect people and make them sick.

Common human coronaviruses, including types 229E, NL63, OC43, and HKU1, usually cause mild to moderate upper-respiratory tract illnesses, like the common cold. Most people get infected with these viruses at some point in their lives. These illnesses usually only last for a short amount of time. Human coronaviruses can sometimes cause lower-respiratory tract illnesses, such as pneumonia or bronchitis. This is more common in people with cardiopulmonary disease, people with weakened immune systems, infants, and older adults.

Two other human coronaviruses, MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV, have been known to frequently cause severe symptoms. MERS symptoms usually include fever, cough, and shortness of breath which often progress to pneumonia. About 3 or 4 out of every 10 patients reported with MERS have died. MERS cases continue to occur, primarily in the Arabian Peninsula. SARS symptoms often included fever, chills, and body aches which usually progressed to pneumonia. No human cases of SARS have been reported anywhere in the world since 2004. In December 2019, a new (or novel) human coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) type emerged in China.

How do coronaviruses present and who can perform testing?

Type

Signs and Symptoms

Exposure Locations

Testing Availability

229E

 

NL63

 

OC43

 

HKU1

Common:

  • Runny nose
  • Headache
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Fever
  • A general feeling of being unwell

Less common:

  • Pneumonia
  • Bronchitis

Worldwide

Clinical Laboratories

 

Commercial Laboratories

 

BCL

 

CDC

MERS-CoV

Common:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pneumonia

Arabian Peninsula

BCL

 

CDC

SARS-CoV

Common:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Body aches
  • Pneumonia

None since 2004

CDC

COVID-19

(aka SARS-CoV2 or 2019-nCoV)

Common:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

Or at least two of these symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

Worldwide

BCL

 

CDC





Page last updated: April 28, 2020