Cold Dew: Sparrows enter the water and turn into clams

April 14th, 2012
by Jo Law

The second pentad of ‘Cold Dew’ began with a cold snap. On Tuesday April 10th Bellambi (AWS) recorded the maximum and miniumum temperatures of 17.1ºC and 9.3ºC repsectively. Two successive cold fronts orignated far south passed through south-eastern Australia bringing the first snow to the mountains in New South Wales’ interior. This sudden dip in air temperature saw cardigans, scarfs, woolens and blankets being brought out of storage – re-aquainting us with the cooler season. This temporary chill gradually gave way to warmer days towards the end of the week. Today was warm enough for a swim in the ocean. Someone, like my mother for example, would regard indulgence in recreational activities, such as swimming, during the period of extreme weather changes as unwise.

Changeable weather is often associated with the onset of illness such as the common cold. The belief that a ‘chill’ is cause of the cold (hence the name) is still prevalent even when there is little evidence to suggest that this is so. However, it has been shown that low humidity that generally accompanies cool temperatures is favoured by the viruses responsible for the common cold. The dryness in the air affords viruses further dispersion and longer periods of being airbourne. Coupled with enclosed environments where humans are in close physical proximity with frequent interaction, a common cold can spread far and wide.

Hollis has been sampling a number of these common viruses that range from the infamous rotovirus to the common rhinoviruses, to some of the more mysterious kinds. It is remarkable how the body of a young human can fight so effectively against such formidable agents. These illnesses fade as suddenly as they appear and Hollis bounces right back in a day or two.

2 Responses to “Cold Dew: Sparrows enter the water and turn into clams”

  1. 1 Lucas
    April 14th, 2012 at 17:14

    We’ve been having this debate at home. I am particularly susceptible to ‘catching a chill’. Are you saying that if I go out in cold weather without a hat, and then get sick shortly after, that it is ALWAYS the case that I’ve picked up a virus?

  2. 2 Jo Law
    April 14th, 2012 at 22:23

    The cold really is the virus doing not the temperature. But in the extreme cold, your body can lower divert energy to keeping itself warm at the expense of maintaing the immune systeme. If there was a virus around, you would then be suspectible; or if you have already caught the virus, you would develop cold symptoms. Apparently, the nose is important in all this – keep it warm and moist is the advise.

    Having said this, being extremely cold can also save lives as discovered during the Falklands War. It is now the practice of New York paramedics to induce hypothermia on cardiac arrest patients in order to help preserve their brain functions. Catching a cold is better than being brain dead.