As winter settles in, so does the risk of encountering common respiratory viruses.

Microchem provides information about some of the most prevalent winter viruses below.

Coronaviruses are characterized by their enveloped structure adorned with spike proteins on the surface, primarily spreading through person-to-person contact and aerosols. While many people are familiar with SARS-CoV-2, there are other strains to be aware of as well. Among them, the human coronavirus strains 229E and OC43 contribute to about 25% of colds with symptoms akin to those induced by rhinoviruses: runny nose, sneezing, and coughing.

Influenza (Flu)

Influenza, a highly contagious respiratory illness, is caused by influenza viruses that invade the nose, throat, and lungs. Symptoms include sudden onset of fever, fatigue, and achiness, with eventual cough, fatigue, and runny nose. The seasonal flu epidemics are predominantly caused by Influenza A and B viruses. Noteworthy epidemic strains include Bird Flu (H5N1) and Swine Flu (H1N1).


Rhinovirus, also known as the common cold, causes runny nose, sore throat, and nasal congestion. Common cold outbreaks occur worldwide and throughout the year, although most cases are reported from September through April in the northern hemisphere. Rhinovirus spreads in locations where persons are in close proximity to one another, such as schools and nursing homes.

Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)

Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) is an enveloped virus primarily transmitted through aerosol droplets expelled when infected individuals cough or sneeze. This virus commonly infects infants and toddlers, but can also infect individuals in other age groups. After an incubation period of several days, most people experience mild symptoms such as runny nose, coughing, and sneezing, with full recovery within 1 to 2 weeks.

Stay aware and informed this winter. Contact our lab to learn more about common viruses and virucidal testing.