Breakdown: Why weather can have impact on the flu virus

Published: Oct. 2, 2019 at 10:10 AM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Flu season is already in full swing and you may be surprised to know that weather can play a big role in the strength of the virus.

It’s possible to get the flu year round, but we know that people are more susceptible during the fall and winter months. The cold temperatures don’t cause the flu, however according to experts the influenza virus may survive better in colder, drier climates.

The cold weather conditions can provide optimal opportunity for the virus to spread. Researchers have found that the outer membrane of the flu virus is mainly made of molecules known as lipids. These lipids contain oils, fats, waxes and cholesterol, which don’t mix with water. This make the virus harder to spread at warm and humid conditions. The virus can spread more easily through the cold, dry air.

Other reasons for the spread of the virus during the winter is because people spend more time indoors. We are more likely to breathe the same air as someone who has the flu, thus making it easier to contract the virus.

Another reason are the days are shorter during the winter, and lack of sunlight which are required to make vitamin D and melatonin. The lower levels of both can weaken our immune systems, which won’t help our ability to fight the virus.

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