Fast Five Quiz: Rhinovirus Facts vs Fiction

Michael Stuart Bronze, MD


December 09, 2020

Rhinovirus has various transmission modes and can infect a huge population at any given time. Most commonly, rhinovirus is transmitted to susceptible individuals through direct contact or via aerosol particles. The primary site of inoculation is the nasal mucosa, although the conjunctiva may be involved to a lesser extent. Rhinovirus infection is not effectively initiated by the oral route.

Highly contagious behavior includes nose blowing, sneezing, and physically transferring infected secretions onto environmental surfaces or paper tissue. Contrary to popular belief, behaviors such as kissing, talking, coughing, or even drooling do not contribute substantially to the spread of disease.

Despite what is reported in folklore, no good clinical evidence suggests that colds are acquired by exposure to cold weather, getting wet, or becoming chilled.

Rhinoviral infections are difficult to transmit by short-term exposure, probably because the agent must be present in exceedingly large numbers to reach susceptible mucosal cells. Transmission generally requires long-term contact with infected individuals. Brief exposures to others in places such as movie theaters, shopping malls, friends' houses, or doctors' offices are associated with a low risk for transmission. Because children produce antibodies to fewer serotypes, those who attend school are the most common reservoirs of rhinovirus infection.

Read more about rhinovirus transmission.


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