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Climate Change Means Less Flu

Why do we get the flu in the winter? It's basically because cold air and central heating both try out our nasal passages, so that we can't "catch" viruses before they get into our body and make us sick. Flu season can begin as early as October, and it usually ends in March or sometimes not until April. The average flu death rate per season is around 12,000.

This has been an especially light flu season: For every patient who was hospitalized this season, 22 people were hospitalized during the 2010-11 flu season. The reason for this may be global warming.

In the March 4th edition of the New York Times, Charles Finch quotes a physician as saying, "Three years ago I was sitting in an amphitheater being briefed on the influenza pandemic. We were worried we might have to ration ventilators. Now we've seen just a handful of cases all winter. I personally haven't treated a single case of influenza."

A warmer, more "tropical" climate will bring NEW diseases our way. Thank goodness it might also get rid of some of the "old" ones.

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This is not entirely true. In fact, H1N1 may have been a game-changer. H1N1 started fairly late in the year here in the USA, around April 2009, and officially declared a pandemic by the CDC in June of the same year. The problem that year was not kids bringing the flu home from school, but coming down with it while away a summer camp.

Yes, I remember it well because I work in public health, and while it did kill people, it could have been much worse. This year flu is arriving later than usual as well, although a slow year. One of my co-workers is home with Type B flu this week, and it has been in the mid-70's for the last few days.

Even flu viruses can adapt to global warming.

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