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What causes the coronavirus disease (COVID-19)?

The COVID-19 disease is caused by the novel coronavirus virus. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, which also includes the common cold. Some cause illness in people, and others, such as canine and feline coronaviruses, only infect animals. Rarely, animal coronaviruses that infect animals have emerged to infect people and can spread between people. This is suspected to have occurred for the virus that causes COVID-19. Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) are two other examples of coronaviruses that originated from animals and then spread to people.

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Author: Dr Idan Ben-Barak PhD, MSc, BSc (Med)
First answered: 28 Oct 2014
Last reviewed: 05 Mar 2020
Rating: 5.0 out of 5
Votes: 1054 (Click smiley face below to rate)
Category: SARS


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