Doctors say specific cold virus could make you fat - | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Doctors say specific cold virus could make you fat

(Source: CBS 5 News) (Source: CBS 5 News)

This time of year if you haven't come down with a cold consider yourself lucky.

"Most of them come from your hands. You touch surfaces, you scratch your nose, the virus gets in," said Dr. Don Bucklin with U.S. Health Works.

But a scratchy throat and a cough might be the least of your worries. Research shows there's one bug, adenovirus 36, floating around that could make people gain weight. In most cases it initially shows itself as an upper respiratory infection.

"It doesn't affect everybody. But in people who are obese about 30 percent have had evidence of being infected by type 36," said Dr. Bucklin.

Dr. Bucklin said the virus doesn't take long to get over but in some people it modifies their DNA, changing how fat cells work, slowing down a person's metabolism.

"If you just compare children who are positive for this virus to children who are not, the children who are positive have somewhere around a 50 lb. weight gain. I mean it's incredible," said Dr. Bucklin.

The only way to tell if you've been exposed to adenovirus 36 is if doctors test for the presence of antibodies.

"Even if you came in and say I think I have a type 36 adenovirus what do I do. We really wouldn't be able to help you at this point because you'd just get over it in a week or so. But your body might still be changed," said Bucklin.

Dr. Bucklin said about 10 percent of people who aren't obese have been exposed to adenovirus 36. The virus just didn't affect them the same way.

Right now doctors at the Obetech Obesity Research Center have developed an experimental vaccine. However, it's years away from becoming available.

Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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