Coronavirus Fact Sheet

Coronavirus

Coronavirus Fact Sheet

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause respiratory infections. Respiratory infections affect the parts of the body used in breathing: the nose, throat and lungs. The illnesses caused by coronaviruses range from the common cold to more serious illnesses, like COVID-19.

Some coronaviruses cause illness in humans and others cause illness in animals. Rarely, coronaviruses that usually only affect animals change to infect and spread among humans. These new coronaviruses can cause severe disease in humans.

That is what happed with SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19. It started as a coronavirus that infected animals but changed to infect and spread among humans. This also happened with Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which emerged in 2002; and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), which emerged in 2012.