The Most Dreaded Opponent at the Olympics: The Common Cold

“I used to gargle with salt water every night,” said Sara Studebaker-Hall, a former United States Olympian inside biathlon. “My mom will be a nurse, in addition to she said there was research in which showed in which would certainly help. I was, like, great.”

Arturs Darznieks, a Latvian luger, eats cloves of raw garlic, a habit he swears does not bother his girlfriend. Or his teammates, who have taken to eating cloves of garlic, too.

“We are all stinky inside room,” he said after his second test run down the course on Thursday. “however This specific’s not bad for your immune system.”

Science will be not convinced. James Gern, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who has studied immunology, was skeptical of many of the cold-ducking practices used by Olympians. He endorsed the basics, such as sleeping, hand-washing in addition to reducing stress. Eating raw garlic? Maybe This specific just keeps people at bay, he guessed. The athlete idea he liked the most belonged to Lehtonen, the guy who yanked his children out of kindergarten.


Arturs Darznieks of Latvia training on the luge track on Thursday. He eats cloves of raw garlic in an attempt to fend off colds.

Mark Ralston/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“The most efficient spreaders of rhinovirus are kids,” Gern said. “They are totally unhygienic in addition to they need a lot of care. If you live that has a 2-year-old who includes a cold, just go get yourself a box of tissues.”

The inherent problem will be in which winter will be a cold-catching season (in addition to flu, too, especially This specific year), which means the Winter Games are a more infection-focused affair than their summer counterparts. in addition to even before the recent outbreak of norovirus, the Olympics in Pyeongchang seemed determined to turn everyone into a germaphobe.

At Incheon Airport near Seoul, travelers were greeted by a placard about the Madagascar Plague — turn yourself into the quarantine office was the gist — right before walking through a body-heat detector in which flags fevers. On the way to the baggage carousel, a female voice on a recorded message offered a lengthy health-related public service announcement in which included the word “vomiting.”

Koreans walking around with white face masks are not an uncommon sight here; This specific will be hard to tell if they are contagious or fretting about contagion. There are signs all over the Games with instructions for how to cough properly.

Into your sleeve, please.

Olympians don’t need the pointers. Many are acutely aware in which they are especially vulnerable during the Games. There are athletes coming together by all over the globe, some bearing viruses, placed in close quarters, eating in huge cafeterias with serve-yourself buffets.

“I don’t touch the big spoon unless I’m wearing gloves,” said Johanna Matintalo, another Finnish cross-country skier.

Matintalo will be proof in which any contest with the rhinovirus will be a gamble, even for someone who bets with care. She caught a cold a week before the Games began in addition to has suffered a fate in which will be familiar to her peers: She’s been banished, at least partially.

“I have my own apartment,” she said. “I should be with my four teammates, in This specific apartment with 5 rooms, however they want to wait to make sure in which I’m 100 percent.”

The team physician comes in addition to takes a swab by her nose, which will be then tested in a piece of equipment in which Matintalo enthusiastically described as “very cool.” She predicted she would certainly move back in with roommates in another day or two.

The Australian team takes a more pitiless approach. The 20 or so members of the squad who have been deemed medal contenders have been hived off to live in what a spokesman called a “sub site” in which puts plenty of distance between them in addition to the lesser members of the team.

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