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Are viruses transmitted more easily when it’s cold?

There’s a lot that’s unknown about flu viruses, but flu season does happen in the winter.

Scientists aren’t really sure why the flu virus seems to spread more easily in the winter. Flu season is around January for us in the northern hemisphere – or around July for those in the southern hemisphere.

Disease experts suggest that one reason we get the flu more in the winter is simply that we tend to spend more time indoors – with other people – breathing dry, recirculated air.

Viruses generally live at body temperature in humans and animals. They don’t fare well in nature – they don’t live in dirt or on trees as bacteria can. The influenza virus is transmitted primarily by tiny droplets in the air or on our hands – from an infected person’s coughs and sneezes. When you breathe that same air – undiluted by fresh air from outside – your chances of contracting the virus increase.

Experts strongly suggest that the elderly and those with chronic illnesses be vaccinated each year for flu. Another precaution – wash your hands a lot.

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