Monday, March 3, 2008

Flu in winter, enteroviruses in summer...

A new study has been done that may shed light on why the inlfuenza virus and other respiratory viruses tend to strike harder during the winter, rather than the summer. Although previous theories have suggested differing amounts of UV radiation during winter vs summer, or groups of people staying indoors and thus huddling more together, this study refers to a different aspect of Flu microbiology. Scientists at the National Institute of Child Health and Human development have suggested that flu virus actually becomes hardier at colder temperatures due to a "lipid shell" (i can only assume they mean the envelope) that actually becomes harder. The scientists suggest that this may help it survive more easily in the environment, facilitiating its spread in respiratory droplets and potentially off of other surfaces. Once inside the body, the lipid layer melts and allows the virus to enter the host cells. It's an interesting theory, although I'd like to check out the more scientifically written paper. Thoughts?

Here's the article: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23435961/

Jon

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