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Identification of Two Novel Coronaviruses


     Researchers have identified two novel potential species of coronaviruses (CoVs) recently, with one reported in PLOS One on 08 June 2015, and the other reported in Newpubli on 04 December 2015.
     Some human CoVs have aroused great concerns worldwide in recent years. One is severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) CoV which caused the SARS epidemic in 2003, and the epidemic resulted in 775 human deaths. Another is Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) CoV which have also claimed hundreds of human lives since 2012.
     CoVs belong to the subfamily Coronavirinae in the family Coronaviridae, which covers four genera, namely Alpha-, Beta-, Gamma-, and Deltacoronavirus [8]. SARS CoV and MERS CoV are members of the genus Betacoronavirus. All the CoVs having been detected from domestic fowls belong to the genus Gammacoronavirus.
     The genus Gammacoronavirus is represented by the species of Avian coronavirus which includes infectious bronchitis virus (IBV). IBV circulates widely in chickens in the world, and causes acute and highly contagious respiratory diseases in chickens of all ages and diminish egg production in hens.
     Zhuang et al., conducted multiple surveys of CoVs circulating in domestic fowls in China, and found that CoVs are also prevalent in ducks and pigeons. However, the CoVs mainly circulating in ducks and the CoVs mainly circulating in pigeons are quite distinct from IBVs which mainly circulate in chickens, and they should belong to novel species according to the official taxonomic criteria of International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV).
     Although Zhuang et al. claimed that they have identified two novel potential species of CoVs, they do not know whether the CoVs can cause any diseases in their hosts (ducks and pigeons). Nevertheless, the two novel potential species of CoVs have not shown any risk to humans.

     Author: Ji-Ming Chen (,
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2015-12-17 10:10:25

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