Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The virus can spread from an infected person’s mouth or nose in small liquid particles when they cough, sneeze, speak, sing or breathe. These particles range from larger respiratory droplets to smaller aerosols.
Most people infected with the virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. However, some will become seriously ill and require medical attention. Older people and those with underlying medical conditions like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, or cancer are more likely to develop serious illness. Anyone can get sick with COVID-19 and become seriously ill or die at any age.
Symptoms of COVID-19
Symptoms of COVID-19 can include fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills, headache, muscle pain, sore throat, fatigue, congestion or runny nose, or loss of taste or smell. Other less common symptoms include gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. These symptoms may appear 2-14 days after you are exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19. Not everyone with COVID-19 has all of these symptoms, and some people may not have any symptoms. Even after recovering from COVID-19, some people may have lingering symptoms such as fatigue, cough, or joint pain.
Viruses constantly change through mutation and sometimes these mutations result in a new variant of the virus. Some variants emerge and disappear while others persist. New variants will continue to emerge. CDC and other public health organizations monitor all variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 in the US and globally.