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BY THE NUMBERS //

All Too Common

The simple rhinovirus has quite an economic impact.

Spring 2007
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common cold

Brand X Pictures/Jupiter Images

2-4
Number of colds adults typically catch each year

6-10
Number of colds kids typically catch

180
Number, in millions, of school days children with colds miss each year

196
Number, in millions, of days workers miss to care for children with colds or to nurse their own colds

40
Total annual economic impact of the common cold, in billions of dollars, including such direct costs as physician visits and indirect costs because of lost productivity

110
Number, in millions, of doctor's visits for cold-related treatment each year

0
Effect that antibiotics have on viral illnesses such as the common cold

1.1
Annual amount, in billions of dollars, cold sufferers spend on antibiotics (possible reasons doctors prescribe them: force of habit, pressure from patients and efforts to prevent secondary infections caused by bacteria in the throat and nose)

110
Number of distinct types of rhinoviruses, which cause an estimated 30 to 35% of all adult colds and would defy a catchall vaccine because they constantly mutate

0
Number of days the antiviral drug BIRR 4 spent on the market. Despite shortening rhinovirus colds, the drug was not considered commercially viable, in part because it had to be administered to early in the infection process to be practical and because it targeted only about a third of colds.

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