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What Is COVID-19?

Educational Objective
To understand what COVID-19 is and how it is transmitted
1 Credit CME

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a disease caused by a new coronavirus, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).

Coronaviruses are a cause of the common cold, but SARS-CoV-2, which likely came from bats, causes more severe disease in many patients.1

Symptoms occur on average about 5 days after exposure to the virus. Almost all patients develop symptoms within 12 days. Therefore, a 14-day self-isolation is recommended for people who were likely exposed to the virus. The most common symptoms are cough, fever, and shortness of breath; most patients with COVID-19 have at least 1 of these. Other common symptoms include muscle aches, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. People may also have loss or change in sense of taste and smell.2

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Article Information

Published Online: July 10, 2020. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.12984

Conflict of Interest Disclosures: Dr Wiersinga reported receiving grants from the Netherlands Organisation of Scientific Research. Dr Prescott reported receiving grants from the National Institutes of Health, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and Department of Veterans Affairs and serving on the Surviving Sepsis Campaign.

References
1.
Wiersinga  WJ , Rhodes  A , Cheng  AC ,  et al.  Pathophysiology, transmission, diagnosis, and treatment of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19): a review.   JAMA. Published online July 10, 2020. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.12839Google Scholar
2.
Huynh  PP , Ishii  LE , Ishii  M .  What is anosmia?   JAMA. Published online June 18, 2020. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.10966PubMedGoogle Scholar
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