There are many kinds of coronaviruses, and some can cause disease. A newly identified type has caused an outbreak of respiratory illness now called COVID-19.
Coronaviruses are named for their appearance: Under a microscope, the viruses look like they are covered with pointed structures that surround them like a corona, or crown.
COVID-19 can be passed from person to person through droplets from coughs and sneezes, says Lauren Sauer, director of operations with the Johns Hopkins Office of Critical Event Preparedness and Response. COVID-19 has been detected in people all over the world.
So far, symptoms appear to be showing up in people within 14 days of exposure to the virus.
COVID-19 symptoms include: coughing, fever and shortness of breath. In extreme cases, it can lead to severe respiratory problems, kidney failure and death.
Diagnosis can be difficult with only a physical exam because mild cases of COVID-19 may appear similar to the flu or a bad cold.
There is no specific treatment for the virus. People who become sick from COVID-19 should be treated to relieve their symptoms.
To protect yourself from the virus, you must practice good hygiene, respiratory etiquette and social distancing.