Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing illness in people and others that circulate among animals, including camels, cats, and bats. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can infect people exposed to infected animals, and then spread among people, as has been seen with MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV, and likely now with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
There are many types of human coronaviruses including some that commonly cause mild upper-respiratory tract illnesses. COVID-19 is a new disease, caused be a novel (or new) coronavirus that has not previously been seen in humans.
The following symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure:
- Shortness of breath
People at highest risk for severe illness from COVID-19 include:
- Older adults
- People with serious chronic medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes and lung disease
Emergency warning signs*
- If you develop the following emergency warning signs for COVID-19, get medical attention immediately:
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- New confusion or inability to arouse
- Bluish lips or face
*This list is not all inclusive.
Many of the symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to those of influenza. Call your health care provider and discuss your symptoms. Stay home and self-isolate, if possible. If you feel sick with fever, cough and have difficulty breathing (shortness of breath) AND you have been in contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19 or have recently traveled to an area with widespread or ongoing community spread of COVID-19, make sure your health care provider knows.
If you are not sick enough to be hospitalized, you can recover at home. Follow CDC instructions for how to take care of yourself at home.
Know when to get emergency help. Get medical attention immediately if you have any of the emergency warning signs listed under the "Emergency Warning Signs."
Call your healthcare professional if you feel sick with fever, cough or shortness of breath (difficulty breathing), and have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19, or if you live in or have recently traveled from an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19.
Your health care professional will work with your state’s public health department and the CDC to determine if you need to be tested for COVID-19.
The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.
- Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
- Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest). Some spread might be possible before people show symptoms; there have been reports of this occurring with this new coronavirus, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.