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What is a coronavirus?

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What is a coronavirus?

The name of coronavirus comes from its shape, which resembles a crown or solar corona when imaged using an electron microscope.

The electron microscopic image, reveals the crown shape structural details for which the coronavirus was named. This image is of the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV). National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)

Coronavirus is transmitted through the air and primarily infects the upper respiratory and gastrointestinal tract of mammals and birds. Though most of the members of the coronavirus family only cause mild flu-like symptoms during infection, SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV can infect both upper and lower airways and cause severe respiratory illness and other complications in humans.

This new 2019-nCoV causes similar symptoms to SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV. People infected with these coronaviruses suffer a severe inflammatory response.

Unfortunately, there is no approved vaccine or antiviral treatment available for coronavirus infection. A better understanding of the life cycle of 2019-nCoV, including the source of the virus, how it is transmitted and how it replicates are needed to both prevent and treat the disease.