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Flu Virus Needs Winter Coat To Survive

Posted by Jane Akre
Wednesday, March 05, 2008 11:07 AM EST
Category: On The Road, Major Medical, Protecting Your Family, In The Workplace
Tags: Influenza, Flu, FDA and Prescription Drugs

The flu virus needs a protective gel winter coat to survive researchers find.


It is winter. You get a cold or flu that comes from a virus.   Now scientists believe they know why. 

Flu viruses tend to strike in cold weather because the virus coats itself in fatty material, a protective get that allows it to survive.  

The material is made up of lipids, oils, fats and cholesterol.

At temperatures slightly above freezing the coat hardens into a protective gel. Once the virus invades your respiratory tract through the air or your infected hands, the hardened gel melts allowing the virus to move from person to person infecting live host cells and turning them into a virus factory.

The coating is so protective it is even resistant to certain detergents. Without the coating the virus loses strength against the elements and dies.

In fact when the temperatures hits around 60 degrees Fahrenheit, the gel dissolves. So when temperatures warm up in the spring and summer, the virus loses its protective coating essentially ending the flu season.

That's the theory from this study from the National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development under the NIH is published in the journal Nature Chemical Biology. In it, researchers used a magnetic resonance technique to detail how the protective gel acted when the temperature varied.

What is not understood is why the flu virus can also thrive in a tropical climate since the hard gel coating forms in colder temperatures. New pandemics of viruses are also breaking out in places such as southeast Asia, Vietnam and Indonesia.

New treatments can be sought if the mechanism of survival of a virus is understood.

Survival is a viruses main goal in life, that’s why they mutate so quickly and make any one treatment method obsolete after awhile. #



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