A Variety Of Factors
Influenza spreads for many reasons. One factor that is increasingly prevalent in the spread of flu is the type of strain which has been forecast. This year, influenza type A has hit the United States; the specific strain being H3N2. When there’s a season dominated by type A, it’s statistically worse–at least that’s what the data suggests. Since H3N2 has dominated the United States this year, it’s understandable that it’s reached the epidemic proportions it has. But there are other factors at play. These include:
- Differing Weather Patterns
- Poor Hygiene
- Economic Flux
- High Levels Of Group Interaction
- “Party” Culture
When the weather is colder, people tend to stay indoors more often. This means the contagions which follow them also remain indoors. People cough and sneeze, and the expurgations which result from such percussive immune system responses spread. When everyone remains inside, they come into contact with those contagions more often.
In Southern California, there has been an exceptional amount of rain this year, which has kept people indoors. In the Midwest, a very cold winter has likewise lead to increased portions of the population remaining indoors. Meanwhile, in the northeast, the weather has been warmer, which has prompted people to spend more time outdoors. This would seem to be an indicator of decreased influenza spread, except plants have begun to bloom sooner than usual, which has increased allergic reactions that seem flu-like to many. As more people cough and sneeze, there’s a psychological acceptance of the inevitable, which can lead to decreased hygiene.
When you’re not as cognizant of proper hygiene, you leave yourself wide open to influenza infection. If you don’t regularly wipe down counters and doorknobs, or wash your hands, you’re at increased risk of contracting the flu. While it’s good to be all-inclusive and affectionate, you should be careful to avoid close contact to those who appear to have the flu. That said, influenza can incubate anywhere from a few hours to a few days before symptoms become evident. Sometimes it’s best to avoid close contact with non-familial individuals during flu season.
When the economy is bad, people tend to work even though they should stay home and recover from whatever illnesses assail them. When the economy is doing well, people tend to be more social, spend more, and continue to socially interact even if they can feel the onset of an illness in the background of their conscious. This year we’ve seen both factors at play. Before the elections, economy was treading water. After the election, the economy saw a concerted spike.
From marches to protests to the inauguration, there have been an increased number of people from differing backgrounds interacting en masse. This is a recipe for influenza spread.
Think critically. Who is more likely to be properly hygienic, clean after themselves, and avoid obvious signs of the flu; those who are sober, or those who are inebriated? Think about yourself: have you ever continued to “celebrate” even after you began to feel a slight tickle in your throat? Well, there you go.
Preventing The Flu
Eat more healthy, ingest high levels of fluid, exercise, wash your hands with hot and soapy water, bathe regularly, and refrain from large groups of people during flu season if at all possible. While it isn’t realistic to totally cut yourself off–and even then, additional factors may still result in the flu–being conscientious can be a big help. Also, a flu shot may assist you; but make sure and take it when you’re already in good health.