The common cold virus is one of the most common viruses in the world. It is a contagious viral infection that affects the nose, throat, and upper respiratory tract, and can cause symptoms such as sneezing, coughing, sore throat, runny nose, and nasal congestion. Although the common cold virus is highly contagious and very common, it is usually not serious and can often be treated with rest, fluids, and over-the-counter medications
The virus is spread through contact with an infected person or through contact with any contaminated surfaces. It is important to practice good hygiene such as frequent handwashing to prevent spreading the virus to others. Although there are vaccines available to prevent the common cold, the virus is constantly changing and new vaccines have to be developed to keep up with the changing virus.
Now recently, a new study has found that the common respiratory virus, which causes mild cold-and flu-like symptoms, may be associated with blood clots and severe thrombocytopenia or a drop in the level of platelets.
The researchers from the University of North Carolina (UNC) School of Medicine, US noted that the finding will lead to earlier diagnosis, appropriate and optimised treatment, and better outcomes in patients who develop this life-threatening disorder.
The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, sheds new light on the flu virus and its role in causing an anti-platelet factor 4 disorder.
It also opens a whole new door for research, as many questions remain as to how and why this condition occurs—and who is most likely to develop the disorder.
Antibodies are large Y-shaped proteins that can stick to the surface of bacteria and other 'foreign' substances, flagging them for destruction by the immune system or neutralising the threat directly.
In anti-PF4 disorders, the person's immune system makes antibodies against platelet factor-4 (PF4), a protein released by platelets.
When an antibody forms against PF4 and binds to it, it can trigger the activation and rapid removal of platelets in the bloodstream, leading to blood clotting and low platelets.
Sometimes, the formation of anti-PF4 antibodies is triggered by a patient's exposure to heparin, called heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (HIT), and sometimes it occurs as an autoimmune condition without heparin exposure, which is referred to as "spontaneous HIT.”
The finding started when a young child, who had been diagnosed as an outpatient with an adenovirus infection, had to be admitted to the hospital with an aggressive blood clot forming in his brain (called cerebral sinus vein thrombosis) and severe thrombocytopenia.
Doctors determined that they hadn't been exposed to heparin or the ade-no-vector COVID-19 vaccination, the classical triggers of HIT.
"The intensive care unit physicians, the neuro-intensivist, and the haematology group were working around the clock to determine the next steps in the care for this young child," said Jacquelyn Baskin-Miller from UNC.
"They weren't responding to therapy and were progressing quickly. We had questioned whether it could have been linked to the adenovirus considering the vaccine data, but there was nothing in the literature at that time to suggest it,” Baskin-Miller added.