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The Common Cold

MICHAEL JONKER n1414879 at sparrow.qut.edu.au
Mon Apr 14 11:41:45 EST 1997

The cold virus (if you mean influenza) mutates be means of two special
proteins in its envelope.  Your antibodies recognize a "familiar" virus
(or an antigen) by such markers on a viral envelope.  The bitch about
colds is that their genetic makeup will mutate rather readily,
which is especially annoying in the regions coding for the antigens I
mentioned as a particular virus can become unrecognisable to your body,
even if you've technically already had it.  Putting it simply, your body
sees it as there being a motherload of different cold viruses.  The
chances of getting the same one twice (the one with the same
recognizable antigens) is rather remote. (quantitatively, reaching the
near impossibles, i.e. work out the number of possible
mutations of two proteins about a few-thousand residues in size and add to
that the number of colds you get in a lifetime.)

On 7 Apr 1997, Paul Michniewicz wrote:

> Hello:
> I have a question concerning the transmission of the common cold.  A
> friend and I were wondering if was possible if a person could catch the
> same cold twice because of the cold virus mutating.
> Hypothetically speaking, suppose subject A had a cold and infected subject
> B.  Subject A gets better while the cold virus in subject B mutates. 
> Could subject B then infect subject A and, if so, what are the odds of
> this happening (quantitative estimates would be real nice).
> thanks for your help and interest,
> Paul
> --
> Anyone who considers arithmetical methods of producing 
> random digits is of course, in a state of sin.
> 				- John von Neumann

	"Welcome to my garden, and what do you see? 
	 Welcome to my garden, do you still see me?"
			The Tea Party                

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