The coronavirus is more common than you think

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- International organizations are taking extra precautions to prevent the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus,  a deadly virus out of Wuhan, China.

Few know, however, that the coronavirus has been around for years. And Huntsville Hospital sees cases of the virus every winter. But it’s not what you think.

The coronavirus is a very mild strain that is actually less dangerous than the common flu and is more similar to an upper-respiratory cold.

A different strain of the same virus is the dangerous one-- the Wuhan strain. Dr. Ali Hassoum, an infectious disease specialist at Huntsville Hospital, said the chances of us seeing anything like that in our area are close to none.

“We have the cold virus, we have the flu virus, so coronavirus can cause similar symptoms and signs," Dr. Hassoum said. “There are a lot of different types of coronavirus like there are different types of the flu.”

The Wuhan coronavirus strain that is making international headlines is a mutated version of the common strain.

“When we say mutation, it means it changed in a way to make it more aggressive in some patients," Dr. Hassoum said.

The Wuhan coronavirus is primarily being spread by people who have traveled or have been around someone who has traveled from China. At last report, there are only seven confirmed cases in the United States.