Contagious: Common cold


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About contagion: Contagion and contagiousness refers to how easily the spread of Common cold is possible from one person to another. Other words for contagion include "infection", "infectiousness", "transmission" or "transmissability". Contagiousness has nothing to do with genetics or inheriting diseases from parents. For an overview of contagion, see Introduction to Contagion.

Contagiousness properties of Common cold:
  Contagious overall?: Yes
  Contagious by droplet?: Yes
  Contagious from kissing?: Yes
  Contagious from saliva?: Yes
  Contagious from surfaces (or objects)?: Yes

Contagion discussion: Depending on the virus type, any or all of the following routes of transmission may be common:

  • Touching infectious respiratory secretions on skin and on environmental surfaces and then touching the eyes or nose.
  • Inhaling relatively large particles of respiratory secretions transported briefly in the air.
  • Inhaling droplet nuclei: smaller infectious particles suspended in the air for long periods of time.
1

Much of the research on the transmission of the common cold has been done with rhinoviruses, which are shed in the highest concentration in nasal secretions. Studies suggest a person is most likely to transmit rhinoviruses in the second to fourth day of infection, when the amount of virus in nasal secretions is highest. Researchers also have shown that using aspirin to treat colds increases the amount of virus shed in nasal secretions, possibly making the cold sufferer more of a hazard to others. 1

Footnotes:
1. excerpt from The Common Cold, NIAID Fact Sheet: NIAID

Last revision: May 26, 2003

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