Tuesday, March 17, 2020

SARS-CoV-2 (3)

What is a coronavirus anyway? Coronaviruses are a family of related viruses that have been around for a long time. Think of an extended human family: each member may have many similarities and yet all are different. Viruses are a type of tiny parasite that replicate inside living cells and that may “mutate,” change their characteristics, which can alter how they impact or are expressed in other life forms. Mutations can allow them to become immune to vaccines, antibiotics, and perhaps other medications. Mutations can occur spontaneously or result from environmental exposure to 
mutagenic agents such as chemicals and radiation. Some mutations can be passed on to the next generation(s) of the virus. Mutations can sometimes occur in the body of a reservoir or vector. This virus appears to have a genetic similarity to bat coronaviruses and may have originated from bats. A possible intermediate reservoir may also be involved in its transmission to human beings (e.g., pangolin, the meat of which is prized in some parts of the world). Viruses can infect all types of life forms including animals, plants, and microorganisms. Viral diseases have been identified in mammals (e.g., cows and pigs often get diarrhea), in birds and bats (e.g., chickens tend to exhibit respiratory tract problems and other systems may become involved), and in human beings. More tomorrow.


Hughes LA, Savage C, Naylor C, et al. Genetically Diverse Coronaviruses in Wild Bird Populations of Northern England. Emerging Infectious Diseases. 2009;15(7):1091-1094. doi:10.3201/eid1507.090067. AMA

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