Viruses are more dangerous to health in the morning
Viruses are more dangerous when they infect their victims in the morning, a University of Cambridge study suggests.
The findings, published in PNAS, showed viruses were 10 times more successful if the infection started in the morning.
And the animal studies found that a disrupted body clock – caused by shift-work or jet lag – was always vulnerable to infection.
The researchers say the findings could lead to new ways of stopping pandemics.
Viruses – unlike bacteria or parasites – are completely dependent on hijacking the machinery inside cells in order to replicate.
But those cells change dramatically as part of a 24-hour pattern known as the body clock.
In the study, mice were infected with either influenza, which causes flu, or herpes virus, which can cause a range of diseases including cold sores.
The mice infected in the morning had 10 times the viral levels of those infected in the evening.
The late viruses were failing after essentially trying to hijack a factory after all the workers had gone home.
“The virus needs all the apparatus available at the right time, otherwise it might not ever get off the ground, but a tiny infection in the morning might perpetuate faster and take over the body.”
It is believed the findings could help control outbreaks of disease.
Prof Reddy said: “In a pandemic, staying in during the daytime could be quite important and save people’s lives, it could have a big impact if trials bear it out.”
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