Coronaviruses (CoVs) have been studied for over 60 years, but have only recently gained notoriety as deadly human pathogens with the emergence of severe respiratory syndrome CoV and Middle East respiratory syndrome virus. The rapid emergence of these viruses has demonstrated the need for good models to study severe CoV respiratory infection and pathogenesis. There are, currently, different methods and models for the study of CoV disease. The available genetic methods for the study and evaluation of CoV genetics are reviewed here. There are several animal models, both mouse and alternative animals, for the study of severe CoV respiratory disease that have been examined, each with different pros and cons relative to the actual pathogenesis of the disease in humans. A current limitation of these models is that no animal model perfectly recapitulates the disease seen in humans. Through the review and analysis of the available disease models, investigators can employ the most appropriate available model to study various aspects of CoV pathogenesis and evaluate possible antiviral treatments that may potentially be successful in future treatment and prevention of severe CoV respiratory infections.
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