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Probably v stupid question about virus transmission(14 Posts)
This is probably a really daft question - apologies if it is. I wondered if anyone who knows about virus transmission could answer it:
Every year we have loads of different viruses doing the rounds - colds, flu, norovirus (my personal nemesis. Oh how I hate norovirus season). Some people get sick with them. Some years it’s a lot worse than others for certain viruses. Let’s use flu as an example: so, a strain of flu starts doing the rounds in December. Loads of people get it over the next couple of months. And then it just...goes away.
Where does it go to and what makes it recede? Is the weather a factor? Or does it go because enough people have caught it that most people are then immune to it? Or is there another reason? I know that they never entirely go away (you can catch noro in summer but it’s far far less likely) But they recede massively.
Would that happen with Covid 19? Could it possibly disappear(ish) from the U.K. after a few months or is it going to be making a lot of us ill all the way through until we have a vaccine because not enough of us are immune?
Yes, I know that flu is not the same before anyone says - I was just using flu as an example of how most viruses seem to behave.
Flu and other viruses tend to transmit better in winter than in summer, as the where they "go" other than circling the gone and coming back mutated, I don't understand. They can live for up to 2 years in a freezer, they are highly infectious...
This is an old article so it won't be helpful on latest knowledge, but it suggested the virus isn't likely to disappear due to cases in the Southern Hemisphere. Whether that's right or not remains to be seen, we're in between the end of our flu season and the start in the Southern Hemisphere, cases are dropping during lockdowns.
Not a stupid question at all OP I've pondered the same!
I’m glad it’s not just me wondering about this!
Not a daft question at all. An interesting one, and I have no idea of the answers.
It's a really complicated issue. This article discusses it in some detail, but it's quite long.
As PP have said, some viruses have 'seasonality' or are seasonal. They die off if they can't be transmitted to a host and transmit easier is certain conditions. This is an older article so things may have changed but it appears that covid may not be a seasonal virus.
Thank you everyone who has posted useful and interesting links. It seems like the general consensus is “we don’t know but probably not”.
Particularly interesting about humidity in the air stopping viruses from spreading so quickly. I will quite that next time someone says “ooooh we need a proper cold snap to get rid of all these bugs” as someone ALWAYS says that in winter when it’s been rainy rather than cold. I knew they were wrong!
Colds and flu are generally passed around most effectively at around zero degrees when it's dry. I thought they meant literal bugs, we get less biting flies after a cold winter. Maybe I need to listen more closely! UV light can affect how long viruses in a fatty envelope survive on surfaces, so dry sunny weather can be good.
It was interesting to read that melatonin can have an effect, I presume someone somewhere has studied increasing melatonin levels through supplements to fight viruses.
A virologist friend of mine said one reason colds, flu, noro ‘go away’ is partly the way we live our lives. In winter, it’s cold, wet and so we all retreat indoors to crowded softplays, cafes, each other’s houses, indoors at school & nursery. So germs spread like wildfire as we are all in such close contact all the time. Whereas, when the weather warms up, we tend to migrate outside more. Parks, zoos, gardens, walks & outside play. So we are in less physical contact. Which plays into why we are all needing to keep a social distance!
I’m sure there are many other reasons but that’s one of them!
"*ooooh we need a proper cold snap to get rid of all these bugs”* is actually about gardening, as cold weather does kill off harmful bugs of the minibeast variety. Perhaps people didn't realise that the bugs that make people ill are entirely different, bugs are bugs.
I had flu at about this time of year, late spring/early summer, and we could not work out where I had caught it. No-one at work had it, and I had been commuting by car. Perhaps some random somewhere had sneezed on me, or on a door handle. The 'bugs' are still out there, I suppose.
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