Eliminating the common cold.

I am presently ill with a cold, and this got me to thinking how best to rid the world of this menace. My plan is for everybody on the planet to stay home for two weeks straight. Obviously this isn’t practical, but I think this would eliminate the cold and any other viral illnesses that are limited to human hosts and have a short course with little to no incubation period. Please respond with any thoughts on this suggestion.

I don’t think that quarantining the entire human race will do much good. Rather, I think that an across-the-board change in diet is the key. Of course this equally unlikely as a quarantine… But… Seriously get yourself a Vitamix, start buying fresh fruits and vegetables, and reduce your meat intake to one pound per week or less.

And how do you think this will address the problem of the common cold? Good diet will mean stronger immune systems, but it won’t elliminate the cold.

Hmm. Curious thought, mass quarantine - could we really eliminate entire viruses this way? I don’t see how it would be possible to enforce though.

I think that people taking better care of their bodies would go a long way towards less people getting infected and passing it on to those with weaker immune systems. Don’t smoke, abuse drugs/meds, or binge drink. Stay active, strength train, build as much muscle as you can, and most importantly EAT WELL. But most people in the USA have the resources to do all this, and they choose not to.

I lift weights, do yoga, eat only nutrient rich foods, (tons of animals products; easily 6-8 pounds of meat per week, fruits and veg, nuts - no grains or sugar) and take a vitamin D supplement when I can’t get noon sun on large areas of my body every day. Something is working, because I used to be ill all the time and I haven’t been at all since I committed to all these lifestyle changes just a couple years ago.

The reason the common cold can’t be completely eliminated is because it’s composed of countless strains of bacteria under constant genetic evolution. Your best bet for complete elimination of colds is to ask God to hit the “pause” button of evolution… :wink: second best bet is to do as rhubarbarin said.

Ha! I eat healthy, I run, and I work at a public library where I routinely come into contact with germs that would make your tender little cells faint in terror. I never get a head cold… except now, when I have a bitch of one. Seriously, I haven’t had one of these in years - sinus infections from allergies, yes, and strep throat I got from my boyfriend, but never a common cold for five years except one time I got one in Pittsburgh that I was obviously unexposed to and this one right now. The bacteria can always out-evolve us because they have very short generations and they will do it every single time unless we find a scientific way to foil them somehow.

The common cold is not bacteria. But I agree with your point. For one thing, humans can get viruses from animals. Are you going to quarantine all animals too?

I think the biggest reason that this wouldn’t work, is some people catch a virus, and instead of being successfully able to wipe it out, the virus just permanently exists at a low level in the person, making them healthy carriers

There’s no way that would work - a family who stays home can easily be handing the cold off to one another and the virus would still be present in someone by the end of that two weeks.

Smokes , booze and fast women, to avoid catching the bug in the first place, failure to do so , get out and about and get some fresh air into your system. Being in the same place day in day out, you probably have the same air, that has not been refreshed.


Well then what the hell am I supposed to *do *while I’m stuck in the house for two weeks?!


Ya know, the boring stuff.

In the case of rhinovirus, we’d only need to quarantine humans and chimps.

This has been a strange thread in many ways. All this about healthy food, keeping off the drugs, getting sunshine…it’s a virus. While certain nutritional deficies may make one more prone to infection, you aren’t going to eradicate a virus with fruit and veg (no, not even organic).

Humans have suffered from colds for all of human history (and probably long before that), so it ain’t caused by big macs.

Well, I can’t think of a realistic plan to entirely irradicate every strain of rhinovirus, so the next best thing would be people building up better defenses. If less people become infected, that’s less people that will spread it to those with more delicate immune systems, like children and the elderly.

If you don’t have any symptoms of a cold, can you still be a carrier and give it to someone else?

I’m surprised that nobody has yet brought up the simplest and one of the most effective ways to avoid transmitting illnesses: WASH YOUR HANDS!
The majority of people don’t wash their hands often enough (including a lot of the nurses and doctors I know). If we could just get people to wash their hands consistently then it would likely cut down a lot on illness.

Theoretically, sure. If Suzie sneezes on you and you get some virii on your hand and then shake hands with me and I nibble a nail or rub my eye, then I can get the cold from you and you may not get it. Or say you get a few viruses in your nose and then, not because you’re sick, but because you ordered spicy food for lunch, you blow your nose. If some of that mucus gets on a tabletop, or your hand, and it happens to have those viruses in it, they can infect someone else.

Rhinovirus is an droplet contagion, but it can live on surfaces for 6 hours, you can still pick it up from a countertop, phone or door knob, even if you avoid that sick bitch Suzie who came into work with the sniffles.

Or you can get a specific rhinovirus that you’ve already had and beat. You’ll have antibodies against it, and not get symptoms again, but there may still be enough viral reproduction for you to shed virus. This may be why the first two years of teaching are often the worst, health-wise, for new teachers: they get every cold their filthy students do. When they’ve been there a while, they don’t get sick as much. They’re still getting exposed to the virus, but they’ve become immune to the most common 20 or so rhinoviruses in their area. For the same reasons, people over 50 tend to have dramatically fewer colds than a preschooler - they’ve had more colds in their lives and have antibodies to more of the viruses out there.

So the best way to not get colds is to become a teacher and get old. Or wash your hands a lot, if you prefer. :wink:

(Seriously, I expect we’d see a HUGE drop in colds if we stopped the practice of shaking hands.)

That’s fine and I wasn’t having a go at anyone.

It’s just that the OP basically says “I know it isn’t practical, but will this hypothetical idea eliminate the virus?” and everyone has responded instead with practical suggestions for minimizing how many times a person catches a cold. It’s not the OP.

Even accounting for continued mutation/evolution? IANAB, but I would suspect that very similar viruses exist on other animals too that could make the “jump”.

After looking this up, I see that quarantine wouldn’t work.

The main virus responsible for colds is rhinovirus, which is exclusively human with no evidence of recent mutation from enteroviruses in other species.
However, the “other” cold virus, coronavirus, does jump between species, and indeed SARS was a strain of coronavirus.

So even if rhinovirus could be eradicated with quarantine, we can’t do the same with coronavirus, and eventually coronavirus incidence would probably increase to cover any shortfall from rhinovirus being taken out the picture.