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Diseases and Viruses of the Corona Virus Family : learn more

This lesson will delve into two of the most important members of the Coronaviridae virus family. One of the viruses in this family caused a worldwide panic not too long ago, through a condition called SARS, and the other one is causing a panic right now, through a condition called MERS.

The Coronaviridae Virus Family

In this lesson, we’re going to take a look at one of the most exciting virus families, that of the Coronaviridae family. I know what you’re thinking, viruses can’t possibly be exciting! But, I promise I’ll point out some cool facts about coronaviruses as we delve into the structure, modes of transmission and some of the diseases associated with this family.

Coronaviridae Structure and Transmission

The viruses in this family have a single-stranded, positive sense RNA genome. They are of a medium size and their capsids take on a helical shape. What’s really cool is that coronaviruses are pretty easily identified under the microscope. These viruses have an envelope with a bunch of glycoproteins that stick out like spikes.

These spikes form a very familiar looking shape, sort of like a crown that would sit atop a king’s or queen’s head. This is why the word ‘corona’ means ‘crown’ in Latin, and therefore, gives this ‘royal’ family, so to speak, its name.

The king and queen of this royal household are quite sick most of the time and are infecting their servants and serfs in two main ways. First, the queen sneezes quite a bit, transmitting these viruses via the respiratory route, and the king can never get off of his throne – the toilet that is. Hence, these viruses are also transmitted via the orofecal route. This means that something laden with viruses passed in the feces of one person, like contaminated water, will end up getting the person who drinks that water very sick.

(SARS: Diseases and Viruses of the Coronaviridae Virus Family, 2013)


SARS: Diseases and Viruses of the Coronaviridae Virus Family. (2013, August 25). Retrieved from

SARS: Diseases and Viruses of the Coronaviridae Virus Family

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