Monday, October 1, 2007

The “Common” Cold: New Discoveries

Those annoying symptoms often identified as the "common cold" – running nose, coughing, sneezing, and other respiratory illness – have long been blamed on a relatively small group of viruses – namely members of the rhinoviridae and adenoviridae families. However, when the 2003 outbreak of SARS (which killed nearly 800 people and infected over 7,000 more) was identified as being caused by a coronovirus, it spurred new interest and intensive research into the microbiology - and specifically the viral causes - behind the common cold. This research is now yielding exciting results: scientists have found that a much wider range of viruses than was previously thought may also cause acute respiratory symptoms in humans. Scientists have identified hundreds of new viruses that cause cold-like symptoms, including several newly identified members of the coronaviridae family, as well as human bocavirus (which is closely related to bovine parvovirus and canine minute virus, but is also linked to respiratory illness in children).
This discovery of the wide range of viruses that can cause “common cold” may also impact diagnosis and treatment of asthma, especially in children. It is recently been discovered of these newly identified “cold viruses” can be linked to between 50 and 80 percent of all asthma attacks. Children, furthermore, are the most vulnerable to virally induced asthma. The importance of viral infection as a cause of chronic asthma is still being researched.

“Scientists find hundreds of new cold viruses.”

- Claire

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