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Coughs and sneezes and other stories . . .

BMJ 2014; 348 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.g3959 (Published 18 June 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;348:g3959

Coughs and sneezes spread diseases, especially among people who live together. Old fashioned household surveillance can yield new insights into the spread of infection when combined with modern virology in the form of real time reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assays. A study from Michigan (Journal of Infectious Diseases 2014, doi:10.1093/infdis/jiu327) found that, in the confines of the home, respiratory viruses pass around readily, especially if more than four people share the premises or there is a pre-school child around. Overall, 16% of people in the households they surveyed were coinfected with two different viruses. Rhinoviruses and coronaviruses were the most commonly identified viruses in all age groups, while acute respiratory infections caused by influenza and adenovirus were less common but more likely to require medical attention.

Researchers in Spain who looked at determinants of disability in older people investigated a sample of 704 disabled adults of mean age 72 years (BMC Geriatrics 2014;14:60, doi:10.1186/1471-2318-14-60). They found that people’s …

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