When the weather gets cold, we are often advised to wrap up warm, to avoid catching cold or flu. However, the fact is that the cold is not responsible for these illnesses, which are in reality caused by viruses.
“We could well go to the North Pole in bare feet and with wet hair, and if there is nothing but seals and polar bears to keep us company, we won’t catch cold!”, says Doctor Karl Weiss, microbiologist and specialist in infectious diseases in the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal, when speaking to online science magazine Agence Science-Presse.
The reason is very simple. The cold and flu viruses are spread via phlegm expelled from the body during sneezes or coughs. The viruses can also be transmitted by saliva. In reality, regardless of the weather, you simply need to be in proximity to someone who is sick and to make contact with the virus, which the sick person is likely to spread into the air.
It is also possible to contract the virus by touching objects that an infected person has touched, and by then putting our hands on our faces. This is why we are strongly advised to wash our hands fairly regularly, especially during outbreaks of flu. In fact, viruses are seasonal and quite simply, in Europe, we have more of them in Winter than in Summer.
“As we are more often confined in small spaces with people with a virus in Winter than in Summer, it is understandable that we are more exposed to viruses, but this has nothing to do with the cold”, continues Karl Weiss.
In short, colds and flus are season-related, but their only link with the cold is that the low temperatures make us stay indoors more often with other people, which makes us more likely to contract a virus.