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Coronaviruses are the viruses belonging to the family Cornoaviridae, which is in the order Nidovirales. Their nuclear material is positive-sense single-stranded RNA. Coronaviruses are believed to cause a large percentage of all common colds in adults. They induce colds primarily in the winter and early spring. Of the more than 30 isolated strains, three or four infect humans. The importance of coronaviruses as causative agents is hard to assess because, unlike rhinoviruses, they are difficult to grow in the laboratory.

In 2003, following the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome in Asia and secondary cases elswhere in the world, the World Health Organization issued a press release stating that the coronavirus identified by a number of laboratories was the official cause of SARS. The virus was officially named the SARS virus.

Coronaviruses also cause a range of diseases in other animals, some serious.

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