What causes coronaviruses?

Coronaviruses – National Foundation for Infectious Diseases

Coronaviruses are zoonotic. This means they first develop in animals before being transmitted to humans.

For the virus to be transmitted from animals to humans, a person has to come into close contact with an animal that has the infection.

Once the virus develops in people, coronaviruses can be transmitted from person to person through respiratory droplets. This is a technical name for the wet stuff that moves through the air when you exhale, cough, sneeze, or talk.

The viral material hangs out in these droplets and can be breathed into the respiratory tract (your windpipe and lungs), where the virus can then lead to an infection.

It’s possible that you could acquire SARS-CoV-2 if you touch your mouth, nose, or eyes after touching a surface or object that has the virus on it. However, this is not thought to be the main way that the virus is passed on.

SARS-CoV-2 can also be passed on via airborne transmission of small infectious particles that may linger in the air for minutes to hours.

However, infection through close contact with people with SARS-CoV-2 — and their respiratory droplets — is currently thought to be much more common.

The 2019 coronavirus hasn’t been definitively linked to a specific animal.

Researchers believe that the virus may have been passed from bats to another animal — either snakes or pangolins — and then transmitted to humans.

This transmission likely occurred in the open food market in Wuhan.

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