The chronicles of coronaviruses: the bronchitis, the hepatitis and the common cold


Coronaviruses first appeared as chicken virus that cause respiratory disease. Historical reconsideration tells that coronavirus infection originated in the early 20th century. The first definitive account of the infection was given by Arthur Schalk and Merle Fawn in 1931 as a “new respiratory disease of baby chicks.” Leland Bushnell and Carl Brandly established virus as the causative agent in 1933 and was called infectious bronchitis virus (IBV), which eventually became the coronavirus type species. An apparently unrelated viral infection was discovered from laboratory mice in 1949 as JHM that caused encephalomyelitis and another in 1951 as mouse hepatitis virus (MHV). Study in the 1960s of viruses causing common colds in humans revealed unusual human viruses (designated B814 and 229E as the sample codes). Development of transmission electron microscopy enabled structural visualisation for the first around time ­and with startling revelation – IBV, MHV, B814 and 229E were fundamentally the same virus having characteristic halo around the spherical viral core, a reminisce of solar corona for which they get a new name, coronaviruses, in 1968. The available historical records are incomplete and sometimes inaccurately represented, and this article attempt to mend the flaws whilst giving a more detailed account.

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