After reading this thread about using the transporters for surgery; it reminded me of a time when Dr. Crusher says something to the effect, "Even with our advanced technology, we still don't have a cure for the common cold." [can someone help me find which episode this is?]

But the transporter beam gets "scrubbed" through the buffer to remove parasites, pathogens, etc.

So my question is this: Why don't they send someone with the sniffles through the transporter to remove the cold virus?

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    Because that would make too much sense.
    – Kevin
    Commented Apr 15, 2016 at 6:01
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    Some people would rather put up with the sniffles than submit to a cure that begins with vaporizing them.
    – user14111
    Commented Apr 15, 2016 at 6:14
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    I guess it could be the same reason we still haven't cured it in real life: The actual virus mutates so much there are new strains all the time. Maybe the transporter already does remove some of them.
    – Ixrec
    Commented Apr 15, 2016 at 6:43
  • Possible dupe of When did they cure the common cold in Star Trek?.
    – Valorum
    Commented Apr 15, 2016 at 7:52
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    It could also be that the transporter can't distinguish between the bacteria/viruses causing the common cold and the bacteria/viruses necessary for the intestinal microbiome.
    – john01dav
    Commented Apr 16, 2016 at 21:52

1 Answer 1


I think @Ixrec is certainly on the right track. We have yet to find a cure for the common cold because it mutates so much. Wiki says there are over 200 viruses associated with the cold. By the 24th century, with their advanced medical technologies, it could be well more than that.

Now, the transporter works by using a biofilter, which works this way:

A biofilter is a scanning device that analyzes an incoming transporter matter stream for known biological anomalies. When it detects such anomalies, like viruses, it will attempt to remove them from the stream.

Now, it's certainly possible that some viruses associated with the cold would be eliminated, but because it's adapting, it's unlikely that they could specify all the viruses because they mightn't be known.

The other useful piece of evidence is that in 'Datalore', Wesley notes that people 'used' to get colds. We can make this fit what Crusher says that we don't actually have a cure for it. Most strains of the cold probably would be eliminated by the biofilter, but not all of them because it's adapting could be filtered out. When it's detected, no doubt it would be added to the biofilter records, but if that strain of the virus hadn't been previously found, it wouldn't necessarily be filtered out.

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