Who Wants Our Cold?


During this holiday season, when we gather for X-mas and other social gatherings, heath experts advise that don’t visit your guests’ houses with your common cold, Covid or RSV symptoms.

Paul Sax, a Harvard infectious diseases specialist, told Caroline Nyce of The Atlantic “Why go through the hassle of getting a cold?. If you’re going to the house of an infectious-disease doctor, don’t come with a cold.”

Caroline writes that after two years of the pandemic and social isolation and other restrictions, people are eager to spend face-to-face time with their loved ones and extended family members. “But the question is also different now, with so many more minor viruses circulating—people might be willing to take a chance on a runny nose or a sore throat. So should you stay home? How sick do you need to be to sit out the holidays a third year in a row?” she writes.

In the article, Caroline discusses what most people agree and disagree. She writes most people agree “one symptom is an absolute no-go: fever. A temperature equals stay home, for at least 24 hours. (And no cheating with ibuprofen: You should be fever-free without pain meds.) Two other ‘red flag‘ symptoms some experts mentioned are vomiting and diarrhea.”

Catherine says on other situations peoples opinion differ. “One reason is that some of these viruses can feel the same, which means you might have to treat cold symptoms as if they could be a more severe illness”, she adds.

Jay Varma, a professor at Weill Cornell Medical College who formerly worked for the CDC, told The Atlantic “if there are any symptoms a person just doesn’t want to mess with in terms of getting other people sick.” Katherine adds “If I had asked him about this pre-pandemic, he would’ve offered that standard guidance about being fever-free for 24 hours and making sure your symptoms are resolving. But mass repeated COVID testing taught us that symptoms and their severity aren’t linked as closely as we thought to whether you can spread the coronavirus. Even having no symptoms at all, you could be more infectious than somebody with symptoms. The challenge is that similar types of large-scale analysis have not previously been done before for RSV or influenza.”

The article goes on to discuss other experts’ recommendation for our holiday family visits and gatherings.