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Too hot for a cold?

In Kansas City, Missouri, the temperature swung from 8 degrees last week to 74 on Monday. Here in New Haven, it's forecast to drop from today's high of 54 to just 28 tonight. The sudden shifts of "global weirding," as some call it, can be hard on human beings.

And, Yale scientists say, on the viruses that cause the common cold. Tested with unpredictable temperature changes, “they just seem to shut down," Paul Turner, chair of Yale’s Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, says in a university news release.

That might sound like good news if you're suffering the sneezing, coughing misery of a cold. But consider that cold viruses are "some of the most hardy and adaptable things on earth," and then consider our own chances of withstanding climate change. "Even the champions of adaptive change have a fitness problem," Turner says.

Turner is senior author of the study, published today in the journal Evolution. His coauthors are Yale postdoc Brian Wasik, former postdoc Nadya Morales, and lead author Barry Alto of the University of Florida.

Filed under viruses, climate change
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