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

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 32,844,146 — Total deaths: 994,208 — Total recoveries: 22,715,726Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 7,078,798 — Total deaths: 204,497 — Total recoveries: 2,750,459 — Total tests: 100,492,536Map.
  3. States: New York daily cases top 1,000 for first time since June — U.S. reports over 55,000 new coronavirus cases.
  4. Health: The long-term pain of the mental health pandemicFewer than 10% of Americans have coronavirus antibodies.
  5. Business: Millions start new businesses in time of coronavirus.
  6. Education: Summer college enrollment offers a glimpse of COVID-19's effect.

Graham hopes his panel will approve Amy Coney Barrett by late October

Sen. Lindsey Graham during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Sept. 24, 2020 in Washington, DC. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told Fox News Saturday he expects confirmation hearings on Judge Amy Coney Barrett's nomination to the Supreme Court to start Oct. 12 and for his panel to approve her by Oct. 26.

Why it matters: That would mean the final confirmation vote could take place on the Senate floor before the Nov. 3 presidential election.

Texas city declares disaster after brain-eating amoeba found in water supply

Characteristics associated with a case of amebic meningoencephalitis due to Naegleria fowleri parasites. Photo: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

Texas authorities have issued a warning amid concerns that the water supply in the southeast of the state may contain the brain-eating amoeba naegleria fowleri following the death of a 6-year-old boy.

Details: The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality issued a "do not use" water alert Friday for eight cities, along with the Clemens and Wayne Scott Texas Department of Criminal Justice corrections centers and the Dow Chemical plant in Freeport. This was later lifted for all places except for Lake Jackson, which issued a disaster declaration Saturday.