This winter has been one of the worst flu seasons in recent memory, and researchers are trying to explain why. They believe that the flu is so potent in the winter due to cold temperatures.
The virus managed to protect itself in fatty material which hardens into a gel form, according to scientists.
The National Institutes of Health found that the protective coating melts in the respiratory tract, allowing the virus to infect cells.
This can only happen in the winter, as it does not happen in the spring or summer due to increased temperatures.
The new report on the flu has been published in the journal Nature Chemical Biology.
It was found that only in the liquid phase, can the virus enter a cell to infect it.
Influenza, commonly known as flu, is an infectious disease of birds and mammals caused by RNA viruses of the family Orthomyxoviridae (the influenza viruses). The name influenza comes from the Italian: influenza, meaning "influence". In humans, common symptoms of the disease are fever, sore throat, muscle pains, severe headache, coughing, weakness and general discomfort. In more serious cases, influenza causes pneumonia, which can be fatal, particularly in young children and the elderly.
Although it is sometimes confused with the common cold, influenza is a much more severe disease and is caused by a different type of virus.
An alternative hypothesis to explain seasonality in influenza infections is an effect of vitamin D levels on immunity to the virus. This idea was first proposed by Robert Edgar Hope-Simpson in 1965. He proposed that the cause of influenza epidemics during winter may be connected to seasonal fluctuations of vitamin D, which is produced in the skin under the influence of solar or artificial UV radiation. This could explain why influenza occurs mostly in winter and during the tropical rainy season, when people stay indoors, away from the sun, and their vitamin D levels fall.
Furthermore, some studies have suggested that administering cod liver oil, which contains large amounts of vitamin D, can reduce the incidence of respiratory tract infections.