Why is the common cold so common? With more than 200 different viruses that can trigger a cold--and the fact that they spread easily--colds are the most common viral infection. Each year, people in the United States suffer 1 billion colds. People who are suffering from colds may spread the virus into the air or onto something they touch every time they sneeze or cough. If you touch a surface that?s carrying a cold virus and then touch your mouth, nose, or eyes, you could become infected. The easiest and most effective ways to prevent a cold are to wash your hands and stay away from people with colds. Clean hands can stop germs such as the cold virus from spreading from one person to another.