What Type of Pathogen Causes the Common Cold?

Common Cold

The common cold is typically caused by viruses, most commonly rhinoviruses. Rhinoviruses belong to the Picornaviridae family and are responsible for a significant portion of cold-like illnesses in both adults and children. However, other viruses can also cause colds, including:

  1. Coronaviruses: Some strains of coronaviruses, such as certain types of human coronaviruses (not including SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19), can cause cold-like symptoms.
  2. Adenoviruses: Adenoviruses can cause a wide range of illnesses, including respiratory infections that mimic the common cold.
  3. Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV): RSV primarily affects the respiratory tract and is a common cause of cold-like symptoms, especially in young children and older adults.
  4. Parainfluenza viruses: These viruses are a common cause of respiratory infections, including colds, particularly in children.
  5. Enteroviruses: Certain enteroviruses can cause respiratory symptoms resembling those of the common cold.

While bacterial infections can cause symptoms similar to those of a cold, such as a runny or stuffy nose and cough, bacterial infections are not the primary cause of the common cold. The vast majority of colds are caused by viruses, particularly rhinoviruses.

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