Health: flu, gastro, cold… How are winter diseases caught and transmitted?

the essential
Are you worried about catching a contagious disease this winter? Here’s what you need to know to protect yourself from the viruses that are actively circulating during this period.

France is facing the rapid spread of several viruses and diseases, such as influenza or gastroenteritis. The broadcast summarizes the methods of transmission of these infections and the means of protection.

Also read:
Flu, cold… we know why it’s easier to get sick when it’s cold


Influenza virus, or flu, refers to an infectious disease that can cause cough, fever, fatigue, chills, headache, body aches…

And the flu is very easy to catch: it is transmitted by microdroplets containing viruses that are emitted when you cough, sneeze or even breathe, as the Institut Pasteur explains. Therefore, it is necessary to wear a mask in case of contamination. And these microdroplets, if they can contaminate you by entering your nose or mouth, can also be deposited on multiple surfaces where viruses can survive for up to 24 hours. You can therefore transfer this virus through your hands by touching already contaminated surfaces.

It is therefore necessary to respect barrier movements and avoid crowded places such as subways; Although the virus is generally non-fatal, it causes several deaths each year in people at risk, especially the elderly.


Gastroenteritis is the consequence of the action of a virus or a bacterium. It is an inflammation of the lining of the digestive tract. It causes diarrhea, abdominal pain and vomiting.

In the case of the viral version, several viruses may be at work, according to PasseportSanté: rotavirus is most common in children, while norovirus affects many adults. These viruses are transmitted after touching an infectious person or contaminated surfaces and then touching your hands to your face without disinfecting them. It is therefore necessary to wash your hands regularly and avoid proximity to contaminated people.

As for bacterial infection, which is less common, it occurs after consuming certain foods and water contaminated with bacteria such as Salmonella.

A cold

The common cold is a nasal disease caused by several viruses, including rhinovirus. They cause i.a. sneezing, stuffy and runny nose, headache, fatigue and cough.

Viruses attach to the mucous membranes of the nose, mouth, eyes and are transmitted in the same way as the flu: by inhaling droplets or by your hands coming into contact with contaminated surfaces before bringing them to the face. As with other diseases, it is advisable to wash hands, avoid places with too much crowding, but also to avoid too dry air and tobacco, as Health recommends: these weaken the mucous membranes of the nose and throat and therefore facilitate contamination.


The little “new” of seasonal epidemics, Covid-19, comes from the family of coronaviruses. The rather long incubation can vary from 3 to 14 days. As for the symptoms, they vary enormously depending on the condition of the person affected: we find a sore throat, fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, runny nose, loss of smell or taste…

According to the Ministry of Solidarity, the virus is transmitted via the famous droplets that enter the mucous membranes, but also via aerosol. This term refers to particles even smaller than droplets and suspended in the air, which are stopped by the masks. The virus is highly contagious: it is necessary to protect oneself against it by respecting barrier movements and safety distances, which reduce risks in closed spaces and make outdoor contamination unlikely.

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