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Summer infections : myth or reality?

Aug 7, 2019

When an infection can ruin your summer…

Barbecue parties beckon, beach bags are packed, and the residences for holidays are booked. However, catching infectious diseases is still very likely to happen during summer months with the presence of specific pathogens that are favored by climatic conditions.

While winter rhymes with colds and flu, summer is synonymous of wellness and outdoor activities. However do you think you are totally safe from infections? According to Pr. Giovanni Di Perri, Professor of Infectious diseases, University of Turin, Italy, “Newer microbial entities might also appear, as testified by the 2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) diffusion into Canada and the summer 2009 Swine Influenza.  Circulation of people nowadays keeps on the increase and as a consequence the traditional geographic barriers of infectious and tropical diseases are no longer the same. Beyond the pure respiratory pathogens, the examples of Chikungunya, West-Nile and Dengue epidemics in temperate climate countries represent examples of unpredictability of infectious diseases spread.”

« While the denominator of patients at risk for respiratory tract infections (RTIs) is much wider during the winter season, in summer the patients at risk are mainly those who have predisposing disabilities.” added Pr. Giovanni Di Perri. Someone with asthma, allergy, cardiovascular insufficiency or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease1 (COPD) would be even more at risk if getting influenza or even a cold because of the irritation and excessive production of mucus making it increasingly difficult to breathe. Getting an infection can bring them to severe exacerbations.

During summer, infections such as whooping cough, respiratory non polio enterovirus and hay fever in children are much more common than we think.2,3 There are also several independent relationship between infections such as allergic rhinitis and otitis media, particularly affecting children.4 Elderly patients with chronic conditions are also more vulnerable to summer acute infections than the general population due to dehydration and hyperosmolarity.

Several preventive measures can be taken in summer. Indeed, as explained by Pr. Giovanni Di Perri, “the added variable in summer is dehydration, requiring a careful management. Vaccination and other commonly adopted preventive measures should not be disregarded even in summer”.


  1. Djamin RS1, Uzun S, Snelders E, Kluytmans JJ, Hoogsteden HC, Aerts JG, Van Der Eerden MM. Occurrence of virus-induced COPD exacerbations during four seasons. Infect Dis (Lond). 2015 Feb;47(2):96-100. [PubMed]
  2. Rory Henry Macgregor Price, Catriona Graham & Sandeep Ramalingam. Association between viral seasonality and meteorological factors. Sci Rep. 2019 Jan 30;9(1):929 [PubMed]
  3. Fillatre et al. Epidemiology and seasonality of acute respiratory infections in hospitalized children over four consecutive years (2012-2016). J Clin Virol. 2018 May;102:27-31. [PubMed]
  4. Rachel E. Roditi MD Maria Veling MD  Jennifer J. Shin MD, SM. The association between allergic rhinitis and otitis media: A national representative sample of in South Korean children. Laryng. 2016;126(7): 1687-1692. [Online Library]