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What are germs? What's the difference between a bacteria and virus? How are germs spread? How can germs be eliminated? We're glad you asked. Find all this and more.


Germ Type: Virus

Coronaviruses infect humans and a variety of animals. Most human coronaviruses cause upper respiratory tract infections and cause a significant percentage of colds. Coronavirus infections occur in winter and early spring.

  • Spread via: Airborne droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes can be inhaled or land on surfaces, where they can be transferred if you touch the surface and touch your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Prevention: To prevent spread of disease, those with cold-like symptoms should cover their coughs and sneezes, wash hands thoroughly and frequently, avoid sharing cups and utensils, and avoid kissing. Potentially contaminated surfaces (such as countertops and doorknobs) should be cleaned and disinfected frequently.

SARS (Severe acute respiratory syndrome) is a viral respiratory illness caused by a coronavirus, called SARS-associated coronavirus (SARS-CoV). SARS was first reported in Asia in February 2003. Over the next few months, the illness spread to more than two dozen countries in North America, South America, Europe, and Asia before the SARS global outbreak of 2003 was contained. SARS is much more serious then the cold caused by human coronavirus. In general, SARS infections begin with a high fever (temperature greater than 100.4°F [>38.0°C]). Other symptoms may include headache, an overall feeling of discomfort, and body aches. Some people also have mild respiratory symptoms at the outset. About 10 percent to 20 percent of patients have diarrhea. After 2 to 7 days, SARS patients may develop a dry cough. Most patients develop pneumonia.