What are Coronaviruses?
Coronaviruses belong to the family Coronaviridae which integrates viruses that can cause infection in humans, other mammals (for example, bats, camels, civets) and even birds.
To date, we know of eight coronaviruses that infect and can cause disease in humans. These infections usually affect the respiratory system and can be similar to common colds or progress to a more serious illness such as pneumonia.
Of the coronaviruses that infect humans, SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2 jumped the species barrier, that is, these viruses were transmitted to humans from a reservoir or host animal of these viruses. SARS-CoV originated an epidemic in 2002-2003 and MERS-CoV emerged in 2012 and has been causing sporadic cases of human infection or small clusters of cases of respiratory disease. The new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, which causes the disease known as COVID-19, was first identified in December 2019 in China in the city of Wuhan. This new agent has never been previously identified in humans. The source of the infection is still unknown. Person-to-person transmission has been confirmed and infection already exists in several countries and in people who have not visited Wuhan market. The investigation continues.