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Biology LibreTexts Rhinovirus

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    Molecular model from X-ray diffraction data (PDB ID: 4rhv) of a rhinovirus particle. (RCSB Protein Data Bank. "Rhinovirus" is licensed under CC BY 4.0)


    • Genetic material: (+)-ssRNA
      • member of the Picornaviridae family (derived from small (pico) RNA (rna) viridae (viruses))
    • Virion structure: naked icosahedral
    • Glycoprotein adhesin(s) (spikes): vary in structure among the hundreds of strains and are not prominent spikes on surface; one reason it is difficult to make vaccine for the "common cold"


    • (+)-sense RNA is used directly by infected host cell as mRNA to make viral proteins
    • RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRP) is used to make (-)-sense RNA copies of the genome; the (-)-sense RNA can then be used as template to make more (+)-sense RNA genome
    • Replicate best at 33 degree Celicius (lower than body temperature) and are thus limited to replication in cooler areas such as the nose


    • Extremely infective - one viral particle is enough to cause infection in 50% of people
    • Infected person can spread virus through droplets, aerosols, fomites, hand-to-hand contact
      • Washing hands is one of the best preventions of the common cold

    Baby + rhinovirus

    Baby holding stuffed Rhinovirus (this is not my son, but he did love his "Rhino" :)  ) ("Baby + rhinovirus" by quinn.anya is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0)


    • Everyone is susceptible
      • sometimes acquire immunity to strains previously exposed to, but immunity often short-lived
    • Not fatal unless leads to secondary infection such as pneumonia

    Clinical Disease

    • Common cold
      • Causes >50% of common colds
        • other causes being coronaviruses (10-15%), human parainfluenza viruses, human respiratory syncytial virus, adenoviruses, enteroviruses, and metapneumovirus
      • Symptoms include coughing, sore throat, runny nose, and sometimes mild fever
        • cause by reaction of the immune system to the infection
      • Usually resolve in seven to ten days, with some symptoms lasting up to three weeks
      • Treatment is symptom relief; there is no cure, although some studies suggest some treatments (zinc, pleconaril) can reduce duration and severity of symptoms
    • Also implicated in otitis media, sinusitis, and exacerbation of asthma in children (

    Additional Information: 


   Rhinovirus is shared under a not declared license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

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