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any of a group (family Coronaviridae, subfamily Orthocoronavirinae) of enveloped single-stranded RNA viruses that have a crownlike or sunlike appearance under an electron microscope due to the presence of spikelike or club-shaped projections on their surface. Coronaviruses infect mammals (including humans) and birds, mainly in the upper respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts. Most only infect a single species or closely related species; a number of coronaviruses can have significant effects on farm animals, especially poultry.

In humans the most prevalent coronaviruses are those that are responsible for varieties of the common coldcold, common,
acute viral infection of the mucous membranes of the nose and throat, often involving the sinuses. The typical sore throat, sneezing, and fatigue may be accompanied by body aches, headache, low fever, and chills.
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; coronaviruses are estimated to cause as many as 30% of all colds. More serious are the coronaviruses responsible for SARSSARS
or severe acute respiratory syndrome,
communicable viral disease that can progress to a potentially fatal pneumonia. The first symptoms of SARS are usually a high fever, headache and body aches, sore throat, and mild respiratory symptoms; diarrhea may occur.
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 (severe acute respiratory syndrome), SARS-CoV; for MERSMERS
or Middle East respiratory syndrome,
relatively rare viral disease caused by MERS-CoV, a coronavirus. Although some infected persons have no or only coldlike symptoms, in most known cases of MERS the infection quickly progresses to serious respiratory illness,
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 (Middle East respiratory syndrome), MERS-CoV; and for COVID-19COVID-19,
contagious viral disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, or SARS-CoV-2, a coronavirus that is genetically related to SARS-CoV, which causes SARS.
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 (coronavirus disease 2019), SARS-CoV-2. Outbreaks caused by infections with these viruses have resulted in signficant deaths, though at varying rates; a lack of immunity in infected persons and of an effective treatment for the diseases, especially in severe cases, has contributed to the deadliness of the outbreaks. In SARS cases, about 9% of those infected died; in MERS cases, roughly 35% have died. The fatality rate of COVID-19, although not yet determined, is significantly less, but the worldwide spread of COVID-19 that began in late 2019 resulted in a far greater number of infections and deaths than in earlier SARS and MERS outbreaks, and attempts to control the disease's spread led to severe economic disruption.

Human coronaviruses appear to spread mainly through droplets in the air resulting from coughing or sneezing, or through close contact with an infected person or a contaminated object or surface. There are no vaccines or treatment for coronaviruses; care consists mainly in alleviating symptoms and preventing the viruses' transmission through handwashing and other measures. The first coronavirus, an infectious bronchitis virus of birds, was identified in the 1930s; the first human coronaviruses, associated with the common cold, were identified in the 1960s.

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A major group of animal viruses including avian infectious bronchitis virus and mouse hepatitis virus.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


a type of airborne virus accounting for 10-30% of all colds
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005