What is Rhinovirus?

The “rhino” in rhinovirus is derived from the Greek for “nose” and these viruses are the most common infective virus to cause the common cold in humans. Rhinovirus describes species that belongs to the enterovirus genus of the family Picornaviridae. Other enteroviruses belonging to Picornaviridae include poliovirus and Coxsackie A virus.

Rhinovirus is one of the smallest types of virus, with a diameter of around 30 nanometers. Most other viruses such as vaccinia or smallpox are around ten times this size, with diameters of about 300 nanometers.

Rhinoviruses contain single-stranded positive sense RNA as their genetic material. These RNA genomes span a length of between 7.2 and 8.5 kb. At the 5' end, there is a virus-encoded protein and at the 3’ end there is a 3' poly-A tail, as in mammalian mRNA. Structural proteins are coded for in the 5' region of the genome, while non-structural proteins are coded for in the 3' portion. This applies to every picornavirus. There is no envelop enclosing the viral particles and the structure of the virus is icosahedral. Optimal growth of the virus is achieved at somewhere between 33 and 35 °C, which is the temperature range found in the human nose.

Around 100 rhinoviruses have been identified, all of which differ according to the proteins presented on their surface. As the predominant cause of the common cold in humans, primary symptoms of this condition include runny nose, sore throat, cough, sneezing and congestion. These symptoms may be accompanied by headache, muscle ache, muscle weakness, malaise and loss of appetite.

Children can suffer from as many as twelve colds a year and in the United states, with colds occurring more commonly between September and April. This may be attributed to the school year starting around September and to people spending more time inside and within closer proximity of each other during these months. Lower temperatures may be another factor, particularly outdoors, given that rhinovirus would favor 32˚C for replication over 37˚C.

Further Reading

Last Updated: Aug 21, 2023

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.


Please use one of the following formats to cite this article in your essay, paper or report:

  • APA

    Mandal, Ananya. (2023, August 21). What is Rhinovirus?. News-Medical. Retrieved on February 28, 2024 from https://www.news-medical.net/health/What-is-Rhinovirus.aspx.

  • MLA

    Mandal, Ananya. "What is Rhinovirus?". News-Medical. 28 February 2024. <https://www.news-medical.net/health/What-is-Rhinovirus.aspx>.

  • Chicago

    Mandal, Ananya. "What is Rhinovirus?". News-Medical. https://www.news-medical.net/health/What-is-Rhinovirus.aspx. (accessed February 28, 2024).

  • Harvard

    Mandal, Ananya. 2023. What is Rhinovirus?. News-Medical, viewed 28 February 2024, https://www.news-medical.net/health/What-is-Rhinovirus.aspx.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
Post a new comment
You might also like...
The immunomodulatory and antiviral function of vitamin D