Human coronaviruses: Symptoms, prevention, and treatment


When should you start being concerned?

Throughout history, there have been cases of human coronaviruses. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recorded the viruses as the following types:

229E, NL63, OC43, and HKU1.

These usually cause mild to moderate upper-respiratory tract illnesses, like the common cold.

Such symptoms include a runny nose, headache, cough, sore throat, fever, and “a general feeling of being unwell”.

The CDC also said that human coronaviruses can sometimes “cause lower-respiratory tract illnesses, such as pneumonia or bronchitis”.

Especially vulnerable are people with cardiopulmonary disease, those with weakened immune systems, as well as infants, and older adults.

More severe cases

Two other human coronaviruses, MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV have been known to frequently cause severe symptoms, the CDC said.

MERS symptoms usually include fever, cough, and shortness of breath which often progress to pneumonia; SARS symptoms often included fever, chills, and body aches which usually progressed to pneumonia.

Symptoms for nCov

Meanwhile, confirmed 2019-nCoV cases ranged from people being mildly sick to people being severely ill and dying.

Symptoms can include fever, cough, and shortness of breath.

Symptoms of 2019-nCoV may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 after exposure.

Prevention and treatment

As there is currently no vaccine to prevent 2019-nCoV infection, the best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus.

However, as a reminder, CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds,
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available,
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands,
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick,
  • Stay home when you are sick,
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash,
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

These are everyday habits that can help prevent the spread of several viruses. CDC lso specific guidance for travelers.


People infected with 2019-nCoV should receive supportive care to help relieve symptoms. For severe cases, treatment should include care to support vital organ functions.

People who think they may have been exposed to 2019-nCoV should contact their healthcare provider immediately.

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