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Obencem / iStock

Catching a cold usually isn't a big deal, but one 5-year-old girl's her recurring colds end in hospitalization. The child, whose case was described Monday in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, has a rare mutation that stops parts of her immune system from functioning properly. By studying her case, scientists have a better idea of how our body fights off the cold and related viruses.

Why it matters: According to Su, the average adult gets 3-4 colds a year, and they usually recover with no problems. But sometimes they don't, and it is unclear why. "That's why it's really important to study cases like these. It's hard to tell when some viruses are dangerous and when some won't be."

What they found: The mutation is in a gene that codes for a protein called MDA5, which is a part of a body's first line of defense against intruders. It's particularly good at identifying viruses similar to the common cold as well viruses in the same family as MERS and SARS. Although MDA5 has been studied extensively in mice and in the lab, not many humans with MDA5 mutations have been identified, says study author Helen Su, an immunologist at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. She and her team were able to directly link the protein to infections with the cold virus.

Go deeper: The child described in the case study isn't the only person with a MDA5 mutation. Studies have identified individuals with less-than-perfect MDA5 genes, and many of them are healthy. In fact, some mutations of MDA5 may even decrease the likelihood of type 1 diabetes.

Go deeper

The new cold war panic

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The world has seen a power struggle between nuclear powers before, and has seen those countries inch closer to military conflict. But it's never before seen a cold war between two countries as interconnected — with each other and with the rest of the globe — as the U.S. and China.

Why it matters: Escalating antagonism between the world's two superpowers is likely to hinder global cooperation to fight climate change, divert resources to costly arms and tech races, complicate diplomacy for U.S. allies, and victimize Chinese and American citizens living in each other's countries.

Parkland shooting victims' families settle suit with school district

A makeshift memorial outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Feb. 14, 2020. Photo: Matias J. Ocner/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Families and survivors of a 2018 mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Fla., reached a $25 million settlement in their lawsuit against the Broward County school district Monday, per the South Florida SunSentinel.

Why it matters: The deal was reached in the suit over the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High after the school district won a Florida Supreme Court ruling that could have capped damages at $300,000 in total without approval from the state legislature, AP notes.

Texas Republicans pass new congressional maps in their favor

Photo: Matthew Busch/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Texas House voted 84-59 late Monday to approve new congressional district maps that reduce the number of districts with Black and Hispanic majorities, per the Texas Tribune.

Why it matters: The legislation comes after recent census figures found Texas' growing diverse population doesn't bode well for Republicans, who then worked to protect incumbents with the redrawn maps.