Common Cold pp 107-147 | Cite as

The role of viruses in the etiology and pathogenesis of common cold

  • Olaf Weber
Part of the Birkhäuser Advances in Infectious Diseases book series (BAID)


Numerous viruses are able to cause respiratory tract infections. With the availability of new molecular techniques, the number of pathogens detected in specimens from the human respiratory tract has increased. Some of these viral infections have the potential to lead to severe systemic disease. Other viruses are limited to playing a role in the pathogenesis of the common cold syndrome. This chapter focuses on the viral pathogens that are linked to common cold. It is not the intention to comprehensively review all the viruses that are able to cause respiratory tract infections—this would go beyond the scope of this book. The list of viruses that are briefly reviewed here includes rhinoviruses, respiratory syncytial virus, parainfluenza virus, adenovirus, metapneumovirus and coronavirus. Bocavirus is discussed as one example of a newly identified pathogen with a less established role in the etiology and pathogenesis of common cold. Influenza virus does not cause what is defined as common cold. However, influenza viruses are associated with respiratory disease and the clinical picture of mild influenza and common cold frequently overlaps. Therefore, influenza virus has been included in this chapter. It is important to note that a number of viruses are frequently co-detected with other viruses in humans with respiratory diseases. Therefore, the viral etiology and the role of viruses in the pathogenesis of common cold is complex, and numberous questions remain to be answered.


Influenza Virus Respiratory Syncytial Virus Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infection Common Cold Bovine Respiratory Syncytial Virus 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag Besel/Switzerland 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Olaf Weber
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Molecular Medicine and Experimental ImmunologyRheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-UniversitätBonnGermany

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