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FLU VIRUS FLOURISHES IN COLD

Mark Brush

October 29, 2007

Researchers have known for a long time that cold weather brings the flu season. But they haven't known exactly why. Now, they think they know why cold weather affects how flu is spread. Mark Brush has more:

The researchers at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine found that once the flu virus is airborne, it hangs around longer in cold air and low humidity. The virus doesn't survive as well in higher temperatures and higher humidity.

They tested guinea pigs infected with the flu virus - and found that the animals are more contagious when they're in a colder environment. They believe that's because their bodies don't get rid of the virus as fast in cold temperatures.

Peter Palese is one of the authors of the report published in the Public Library of Science:

"So that makes sense when your grandmother told you 'don't go out when it's cold, and stay warm and you might get the flu,' she was probably right."

Palese says other research doesn't support the use of vitamins to prevent the flu. He says the best way to keep from getting it is to get a flu shot.

For the Environment Report, I'm Mark Brush.

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