Coronaviruses that cause common infections peak in January, February, study finds


Four of the seven coronavirus that infect humans cause common respiratory infections that are seasonal, according to a study published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases.

Researchers used data from the Household Influenza Vaccine Evaluation study, an ongoing study of respiratory illnesses in households with children in the Ann Arbor, Mich., area. The study began tracking four typically mild human coronaviruses in 2010. Researchers examined the 993 infections caused by those coronaviruses.

They found that most of the coronavirus infection cases were detected between December and April or May, and they peaked in January or February. Only 2.5 percent of the cases occurred between June and September.

But researchers caution their findings don't mean that the new coronavirus causing COVID-19 will behave the same way.

"Only time will tell if SARS-CoV-2 will become a continuing presence in the respiratory infection landscape, continue with limited circulation as with MERS [Middle East Respiratory Syndrome], or like SARS, disappear from humans altogether," said Arnold Monto, the Thomas Francis collegiate professor of epidemiology at the University of Michigan School of Public Health in Ann Arbor.

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