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Coronavirus Basics

Coronavirus Basics

What Is Coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses ranging from the common cold to much more serious diseases and can infect both humans and animals, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). 

The new strain, first identified in Wuhan, China in January 2020, is related to two other coronaviruses that have caused outbreaks in recent years: Middle East respiratory syndrome, also known as MERS, and severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS.

For up-to-date information on the virus, we recommend visiting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website.

Coronavirus Symptoms & Disease

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), patients with confirmed COVID-19 infections have reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of:

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

Symptoms of COVID-19 may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 days after exposure. This is based on what has been seen previously as the incubation period of MERS viruses.

How Coronavirus Spreads

According to the CDC, the new coronavirus strain that causes COVID-19 is most commonly spread from an infected person to others through:

  • The air by coughing and sneezing
  • Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
  • Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands
  • Rarely, fecal contamination

For more information, refer to the CDC website at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/.