H1N1: Hope for a Hot May

According to a group of physicians answering questions about swine flu virus transmission at Slate.com, heat is an important factor:

Cells infected with flu virus are coated in a fatty material that hardens and protects them in low temperatures. (When you inhale a flu particle, that coating melts in the respiratory tract, releasing the virus.) Viruses also stay in the air more easily when the air is cold and dry. When it’s humid, by contrast, flu-carrying vapor droplets get heavier and fall to the ground.

Temperature makes a huge difference in transmission rates. In a study published in 2007, flu researchers exposed guinea pigs to a virus at various temperatures. They found that transmission levels were high at 41 degrees Fahrenheit but declined at increased temperatures. At 86 degrees, the virus did not transmit at all.

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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