The flu can jump from animals to humans. A new strain of flu has emerged four times in the past 100 years. The one that emerged in 1918 killed 50 million people, which is why scientists watch these new flu strains so carefully.

Last fall, over 150 harbor seal pups washed up on the shores of New England beaches. Researchers discovered that they were killed by a new strain of flu, that evolved from bird flu. It had obviously gained the ability to spread from seal to seal.

In the July 31st edition of the New York Times, Carl Zimmer quotes biologist Katie Pugliares as saying, "Surfers were surfing into seals floating in the water."
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If you can get Legionnaire’s Disease from just walking past a hot tub, you can get the flu from looking at the pigs at a county fair–and some people did. The CDC reports that four people attending an Indiana county fair this month came down with flu traced to the pigs there.

However, it’s a strain of flu that doesn’t pass easily from person to person, so medical officials aren’t worried about a new epidemic.
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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.
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