[The following is an exact transcript of this podcast.]
With swine flu the big infectious disease story, you don’t hear much about bird flu these days. And you may not have to look past your own nose for the reason. Because a new study finds that bird flu viruses may have trouble getting a good foothold in humans thanks to the temperature of our noses. That’s according to research just published in the journal Public Library of Science Pathogens.
Avian or bird flu comes in sixteen subtypes. Some can pick up surface proteins from human flu viruses that allow the bird virus to then infect humans. But the new study shows that normal bird flu viruses just can’t seem to cut it at the typical human nose temperature of about 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Probably because the bird viruses usually make their home in the guts of birds, at a balmy 104 degrees Fahrenheit. So if a normal bird flu virus checked into your nose, chances are it would check out before it had a chance to multiply, mutate and do any damage. Indeed, in this case your chilly beak is something to crow about.