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Coronaviruses are perhaps most easily identified because of their classic "crown" appearance. They are quite common in the young of most species and can infect a wide range of tissues.


Coronaviruses are viruses belonging to the family coronaviridae in the Order Nidovirales. Viruses in this order have a RNA genome ranging in size from 13 kb to 32 kb. Coronavirus genomes range from 26 to 32 kb making them the largest in this order. Coronaviruses are further grouped into two subfamilies namely coronavirinae and torovirinae. Subfamily coronavirinae contains 4 genera namely; alphacoronavirus, betacoronavirus, deltacoronavirus and gammacoronavirus while the subfamily torovirinae contains the genera bafinivirus and torovirus.


Corona viruses are large, spherical enveloped RNA viruses. They contain a positive sense, single stranded polyadenylated and capped RNA. Their genome encodes for various structural, accessory and viral replication proteins. The structural proteins are hemaglutinin-esterase (HE), spike (S), envelope (E), nucleocaspid (N) and membrane (M) proteins. They can be identified by their crowns, long bulbous widely-spaced spikes formed by the spike proteins.

Virulence and Pathogenesis

Pathogenesis varies widely based on each virus, but most commonly cause respiratory and enteric disturbances. Those described here will be the enteric variety.

Coronaviridae Learning Resources
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