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General Health : Infectious Disease Last Updated: Apr 20, 2011 - 9:38:09 AM

U.S. researchers explain why flu virus more active in winter
By Sue Mueller
Mar 2, 2008 - 12:07:02 PM

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SUNDAY MARCH 2, 2008 ( -- It's a fact that influenza viruses and probably some others are more active in the winter.  U.S. researchers released a report Sunday saying that it is the fatty material put on the flu viruses that hardens and protects them at colder temperatures.

Joshua Zimmerberg of the U.S. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) and colleagues found only when the butter-like coating melts in the respiratory tract could the flu virus invade cells.

It's commonly believed that the reason why it's easier for people to get flu in the winter time is because they stay indoors longer and the flu virus is less likely to get killed by the sun. But Zimmerberg and team suggested that explanation is insufficient.

The finding reported in the journal Nature Chemical Biology would provide a target for researchers to find new ways to prevent and treat flu, NICHD Director Duane Alexander was cited by Reuters as saying.

Flu viruses cause a mild illness and do not cause too much harm without medical intervention in many cases, but those with immune systems compromised are at a higher risk of complications.

The U.S. government says that 36,000 people in the United States die from flu implications each year.  But some source suggests that the real number of death from flu viruses is about 1 to 1.5 % of these 36,000 people, meaning that the mortality is rare.

There are a few things people may do to help prevent the winter flu:

1) Avoid sugar:  It's believed that too much sugar could hamper immune response and lower your capability of defending against the winter flu;

2) Avoid stress and get enough rest:  Stress and fatigue sabotage your immune system;

3) Eat garlic regularly: Garlic kills flu viruses in addition to bacteria and fungi;

4) Exercise:  Exercising can get your needy nutrient to its right position quickly to help your immune system to defend against the winter flu viruses;

5) Keep windows slightly always:  In the winter, windows are often tightly closed to save energy.  But many people do not realize this could increase the chance for you to spread or to get flu viruses;

6) Wash your hands:  Dirty hands can spread germs and flu viruses easily.

© 2004-2008 by unless otherwise specified

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