Study shows why flu spreads in winter

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New York, Dec 5 (UNI) A new study has revealed that flu virus spreads primarily in winter as it is more stable and stays in the air longer when the air is cold and dry.

''Influenza virus is more likely to be transmitted during winter on the way to the subway than in a warm room,'' the New York Times quoted Peter Palese, the lead author of the flu study and a professor here, as saying.

Since the time flu has been recognised, it has been associated with the winter. In fact, the very name 'influenza' originated from influenza di freddo, meaning influence of the cold.

Dr Palese studied guinea pigs infected with the flu virus and found that low temperature and humidity levels increase transmission.

He suggested a flu shot to avoid the infection in winter.

Dr Jonathan McCullers, a flu researcher at St Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, rejected earlier hypothesis that flu came in winter because children, crowded together in school, get the flu and pass it on to their families.

''We know one of the largest factors is kids in school-- most of the major epidemics are traced to children. But that still does not explain wintertime. We don't see flu in September and October,'' he said.

As for the crowding argument, he said,''That never made sense.'' People work all year round and crowd into buses and subways and planes no matter what the season.


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