Viruses 'more dangerous in the morning'

A new study, ‘Cell autonomous regulation of herpes and influenza virus infection by the circadian clock’, published in PNAS has found that viruses which begin in the morning are 10 times more successful than those from infections which begin at a later stage in the day. The study tested for differential disease progression using one influenza strain and herpes zoster.

These animal studies also found that a disrupted body clock, caused by shift-work or jet lag, was always vulnerable to infection.

Co-author Prof. Akhilesh Reddy commented:

‘It’s a big difference. 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.

In a pandemic, staying in during the daytime could be quote important and save people’s lives, it could have a big impact if trials bear it out’.

Commenting on the finding that a disrupted body clock is always susceptible to viruses thriving, co-author Dr Rachel Edgar said:

‘This indicates that shift workers, who work some nights and rest some nights and so have a disrupted body clock, will be more susceptible to viral diseases. If so, then they could be prime candidates for receiving the annual flu vaccines’.

Click here to read the study in full.

Click here to read further research on the impact of the circadian clock on infection and immunisation.