NAME: Human Coronavirus (excluding SARS-Co-V)
SYNONYM OR CROSS REFERENCE: HCoV-229E, HCoV-OC43, HCoV-NL63, HCoV-HKU1, common cold, viral respiratory disease, viral gastroenteritis.
CHARACTERISTICS: Enveloped viruses 120- 160 nm in diameter, with a positive stranded, capped and polyadenylated RNA genome that is 27-32 kb in size Footnote 1-Footnote 3 .There are many coronaviruses which affect animals; however, currently, only five strains of coronavirus are known to infect humans, classified based on antigenic cross-reactivity: HCoV-229E, HCoV-OC43, HCoV-NL63, and HCoV-HKU1 Footnote 1-Footnote 4. HCoV-229E and HCoV-NL63 are more related to each other than to the other coronavirus, as they share 65% of their sequence identity Footnote 5 .
PATHOGENICITY/TOXICITY: HCoV-229E and HCoV-OC43 cause the common cold, a self-limiting upper respiratory tract infection. Infection can lead to a number of illnesses such as bronchitis, gastroenteritis, progressive demyelinating encephalitis, diarrhea, peritonitis, nasal obstruction, rhinorrhea, sneezing, sore throat and cough Footnote 1, Footnote 5. They can cause more severe lower respiratory tract infection, including pneumonia in infants, elderly and immunocompromised individuals Footnote 1-Footnote 3. HCoV-229E is a common agent if coryza, whereas HCoV-OC43 is generally characterized by sore throats Footnote 3 . HCoV-NL63 causes laryngotracheitis (croup) and nonfatal upper and lower respiratory tract infections in children, elderly, and immunocompromised individuals Footnote 1, Footnote 3. HCoV-HKU1 causes mild upper respiratory diseases, the common cold, bronchiolitis, and pneumonia, with symptoms such as rhinorrhoea, fever, cough, febrile seizure, and wheezing Footnote 3, Footnote 6. More severe illness may occur in children, adults with underlying disease, the elderly, and may be associated with gastrointestinal illness (Footnote 1).
EPIDEMIOLOGY: Coronaviruses have a worldwide distribution, causing 10-15% of common cold cases. Infections show a seasonal pattern with most cases occurring in the winter months Footnote 7, Footnote 8.
HOST RANGE: Humans.
INFECTIOUS DOSE: Unknown.
COMMUNICABILITY: Human-to-human transmission is possible during the presence infectious droplets, which can cause infection via inhalation, or through contaminated surfaces Footnote 8 .
RESERVOIR: Humans Footnote 4 .
DRUG SUSCEPTIBILITY: Currently, there are no specific antiviral drugs for coronavirus available Footnote 4.
SUSCEPTIBILITY TO DISINFECTANTS: Susceptible to 0.1% sodium hypochlorite, 0.1% organochlorine, 10% iodophore, 70% ethanol and 2% glutaraldehyde. Resistant to 0.04% quaternary ammonium compound and phenolics Footnote 9 .
SURVIVAL OUTSIDE HOST: Survives up to six days in aqueous mediums and up to 3 hours on dry inanimate surfaces Footnote 12 .
SURVEILLANCE: Coronavirus infections are not usually diagnosed due to the mild, self-limited nature of the disease. Research laboratories have used isolation methods, electron microscopy, serology and PCR-based assays to diagnosis coronavirus infections for surveillance studies Footnote 4.
Note: All diagnostic methods are not necessarily available in all countries.
LABORATORY-ACQUIRED INFECTIONS: No infections have been reported to date. However, this may be an under-estimate of the number of incidences as symptoms are nonspecific and self-limiting.
SOURCES/SPECIMENS: Specimens from the upper or lower respiratory tract, stools Footnote 2.
PRIMARY HAZARDS: Aerosols, contact with stools Footnote 2.
SPECIAL HAZARDS: None.
RISK GROUP CLASSIFICATION: Risk group 2 Footnote 13. This risk group applies to the species as a whole, and may not apply to every strain within the species.
CONTAINMENT REQUIREMENTS: Containment Level 2 facilities, equipment, and operational practices for work involving infectious or potentially infectious materials, animals, or cultures Footnote 14. These containment requirements apply to the species as a whole, and may not apply to each strain within the species.
PROTECTIVE CLOTHING: Lab coat. Gloves when direct skin contact with infected materials or animals is unavoidable. Eye protection must be used where there is a known or potential risk of exposure to splashes Footnote 14.
OTHER PRECAUTIONS: All procedures that may produce aerosols, or involve high concentrations or large volumes should be conducted in a biological safety cabinet (BSC). The use of needles, syringes, and other sharp objects should be strictly limited. Additional precautions should be considered with work involving animals or large scale activities Footnote 14.
SPILLS: Allow aerosols to settle and, wearing protective clothing, gently cover spill with paper towels and apply an appropriate disinfectant, starting at the perimeter and working towards the centre. Allow sufficient contact time before clean up Footnote 14.
DISPOSAL: Decontaminate all wastes that contain or have come in contact with the infectious organism before disposing by autoclave, chemical disinfection, gamma irradiation, or incineration.Footnote 14.
STORAGE: The infectious agent should be stored in leak-proof containers that are appropriately labelled Footnote 14.
REGULATORY INFORMATION: The import, transport, and use of pathogens in Canada is regulated under many regulatory bodies, including the Public Health Agency of Canada, Health Canada, Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Environment Canada, and Transport Canada. Users are responsible for ensuring they are compliant with all relevant acts, regulations, guidelines, and standards.
UPDATED: November, 2010
PREPARED BY: Pathogen Regulation Directorate, Public Health Agency of Canada.
Although the information, opinions and recommendations contained in this Pathogen Safety Data Sheet are compiled from sources believed to be reliable, we accept no responsibility for the accuracy, sufficiency, or reliability or for any loss or injury resulting from the use of the information. Newly discovered hazards are frequent and this information may not be completely up to date.
Public Health Agency of Canada, 2010