Blame It on the Birds
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Blame It on the Birds

The viruses that cause the common cold have been traced back 200 years to an avian virus originating in birds.

The common cold is also known as nasopharyngitis, acute viral rhinopharyngitis, acute coryza, or just a cold. A cold is a viral infectious disease of the upper respiratory system caused by rhinoviruses and coronaviruses. The common cold is the most common infectious disease found in humans. The majority of adults get two to four colds every year while children average 6 to 12 colds every year. There are no cures for the common cold, but they usually run their course in 7 to 10 days. All we can do is suffer the cough, sore throat, runny nose, and nasal congestion for the duration. You can blame your suffering on the birds.

Where did the common cold come from?

According to an article in the Journal of General Virology, the virus that produces the common cold originated in birds some 200 years ago. Scientists believe that this discovery may help them understand how potentially deadly viruses may emerge in humans.

Human metapneumovirus

During an interview with a reporter from Science News, Professor Dr. Fouchier, said that Human metapneumovirus may be the second most widespread cause of lower respiratory infection in young children. He went on to explain that studies have shown that by the age of five, virtually all children have been exposed to the virus, and re-infections appear to be prevalent According to Dr. Fouchier, researchers have identified sites on some virus proteins that can be used to monitor to help identify future dominant strains of the virus.

What is the Human metapneumovirus?

Human metapneumovirus is related to the respiratory Syncytial virus, measles, mumps and parainfluenza viruses. It infects people of all ages but is most common in children under five. Symptoms include runny nose, cough, sore throat and fever. Infection can also lead to more severe illnesses such as bronchitis and pneumonia, which can result in hospitalization, especially in infants and immunocompromised patients. HMPV infection is most common during the winter, and it is believed to cause up to 10% of respiratory illnesses in children.

"HMPV was first discovered in 2001, but studies have shown that the virus has been circulating in humans for at least 50 years," said Professor Dr. Ron Fouchier from Erasmus MC in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. "HMPV is closely related to avian metapneumovirus C (AMPV-C), which infects birds. Because of the similarity, scientists have suggested that HMPV emerged from a bird virus that crossed the species barrier to infect humans."

Metapneumovirus have high evolutionary rates, similar to those of other RNA viruses such as influenza, hepatitis C and SARS. By understanding the evolution and emergence of these viruses the scientists hope to develop ways of monitoring and predicting the emergence of new pathogenic viruses.

Will this research lead to a cure for the common cold? One can only hope at this point.

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Comments (3)

this is very true, most flus and colds start with birds.

So it is not only bird flu that comes from the birds.

I really enjoyed this one. So it is the birds!