Study Shows Flu Is More Common During Winter

Monday, January 28th 2008, 10:34 pm
By: News On 6

When mom or grandma told you to bundle up so you didn't get sick, she may have been right.  New scientific experiments have now proven what we all just assumed, that flu is more common in winter.

If you have had the flu you know how awful it feels.

"Incredible body pain, muscle aches, sore joints, difficulty walking," said Samira Mubaraka.

We all know influenza is more common in winter. But researchers have not known why. Virologist Dr. Peter Palese has been studying the effects of heat and cold on the flu virus.

"In the cold temperatures, five degrees centigrade, these animals shed the virus much longer and also they transmitted the virus much better from one animal to the other," said Dr. Peter Palese.

He found that at higher temperatures, the flu virus didn't spread, but at colder temperature it did.

"The virus is probably more stable in cold temperature, so it hangs in the air much longer," said Dr. Peter Palese.  "Allowing it to spread easier."

Here's how, when we cough or sneeze, microscopic droplets of water and the virus enter the air.  Dry, cold conditions dry out the droplets, helping the virus linger in the air.  The dry air also dries out nasal passages, which helps the virus stick.

"Cold dry air going over your nasal mucosa gets cracks in your airways and that allows virus to get in more easily," said Anice Lowen, Mt. Sinai School of Medicine.

And as we head into colder temps, doctors say although we can't control, we can get a flu shot to try and prevent it.

And it also helps not to cough in your hand.  The new acceptable way to cough is in your sleeve.