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An explanation for the seasonality of acute upper respiratory tract viral infections

Eccles, Ronald 2002. An explanation for the seasonality of acute upper respiratory tract viral infections. Acta Oto-laryngologica 122 (2) , pp. 183-191. 10.1080/00016480252814207

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Despite a great increase in our understanding of the molecular biology of the viruses associated with acute upper respiratory tract viral infections (URTIs) there is a remarkable lack of knowledge and ideas about why URTI should exhibit a seasonal incidence. Most publications in this area either acknowledge a complete lack of any explanation for the seasonality of URTI or put forward an explanation relating to an increased "crowding" of susceptible persons in winter. This review will discuss some of the ideas concerning the seasonality of URTI and put forward a new hypothesis for discussion, namely that seasonal exposure to cold air causes an increase in the incidence of URTI due to cooling of the nasal airway. The hypothesis is supported by literature reports demonstrating that inhalation of cold air causes cooling of the nasal epithelium, and that this reduction in nasal temperature is sufficient to inhibit respiratory defences against infection such as mucociliary clearance and the phagocytic activity of leukocytes. A case is also made to suggest that warming of the nasal airway during fever and nasal congestion may help to resolve a current URTI.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Biosciences
Subjects: Q Science > QR Microbiology > QR180 Immunology
Q Science > QR Microbiology > QR355 Virology
Publisher: Informa Healthcare
ISSN: 0001-6489
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 08:02

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