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Viruses Strike More In The Morning

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Late risers have one more reason to celebrate: a recent study suggests that the human body is more vulnerable to viruses in the morning, Tech Times reports.

According to researchers from the University of Cambridge, viruses can be up to ten times deadlier if they strike and infect people in the morning.

The research team infected mice with either influenza, the virus behind the flu, or herpes, the virus behind many diseases such as cold sores. The results showed that the mice infected with viruses in the morning had ten times more of the virus than those infected in the evening.

The reason for this can be chalked down to the unique way the body processes viruses.

Viruses function differently from bacteria or parasites. They are independent, only able to replicate by infecting a host cell. Before they do this, they don’t have the properties that constitute a living thing, so are not considered to be alive.

Now, the human body follows a circadian rhythm, which is a 24-hour “body clock” that undergoes a cycle of physiological activity. As this cycle goes on, different body functions are more active than others depending on the time of day. In this study, researchers focused on the gene Bmal1, which reaches its maximum activity in the afternoon in mice and humans.

The logic is clear. Since the body is more active during the first half of the day, viruses have better chances of infecting the body at that peak period. Then later in the day, when the body slows down, viruses are less likely to infect cells.

Akhilesh Reddy, a professor, and researcher on the study, says,

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 addition, the researchers also discovered that viruses are more active when the body clock of the mice was disturbed.

Rachel Edgar, also a researcher on this study, says, “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.”

The team hopes that their findings help in controlling outbreaks caused by viruses, such as Ebola or Zika.

The study was published in the medical journal PNAS.

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