"A winter cold is nasty, brutish and short," Bruce Hirsch, infectious-disease specialist at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, N.Y., told The Wall Street Journal. "But summer colds tend to linger. They can go on for weeks and reoccur."
Summer colds, which can hit between June and October, occur only about 25 percent as often as the winter variety, but summer colds can have more severe, flu-like symptoms such as fever and aches, in addition to sneezing and coughing.
The enterovirus, which usually causes the summer cold, and the rhinovirus, which usually causes the winter cold, are spread by people sneezing and coughing and via direct contact with germy surfaces. However, summer colds can also be transmitted through fecal contact, which can occur from contaminated bathroom door handles.
Experts say they are not clear why summer colds are apt to be caused by one virus and not the other, Hirsch said.
Winter colds might occur more frequently than summer colds because colder weather and lack of sunlight decreases the body's immunity, said Dr. Ronald Eccles, director of the Common Cold Centre at the University of Cardiff in Wales.
But viruses thrive where large numbers of people gather, such as schools, public transportation, sports games and airlines flights.
"Anywhere there's crowding, you're likely to pick up a cold," Eccles said.