While the winter is a great time for rejoice and celebration, it comes with the title of the “flu season.” In a study released in January 2013, Sherry Towers, a professor from the Department of Mathematical and Computational Modeling Sciences Center at Arizona State University, finds a correlation between the influenza virus and temperature change among seasons. The study states that warm winters have been followed by drastic epidemics of the flu, causing the flu season to be more severe and occur earlier in the following season. The data depicts that there is a 72% chance the next influenza epidemic will be worse than before if a colder winter follows a warmer one.

A warm winter could mean that next year’s flu season will be bad. Credit: Wikipedia Commons.

The same report also stated that cases of influenza in the winter of 2012-2013 were 40% greater than average and occurred 11 days earlier compared to the winter of 2011-2012.

Dr. Lisa Miller from the Colorado Health Department said that cases of the flu increased by 20% for the 2013-2014 flu season in comparison to the last one. Data from Weather Warehouse shows that the average temperature between December 2012 and January 2013 was 32.2 °F, but the current average is 29.7 °F between December 2013 and January 2014.

According to Bennett Austin, a general practitioner at the Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins, CO, there is a significantly greater number of patients with influenza during this flu season. “The introduction of these epidemics is generally attributed to climate change. However, the rapid exchange of these viruses is due to people staying indoors more often due to cold temperatures.”

According to the Colorado Health Department, influenza is spread from person through contact with contaminated surfaces, hands, or any item soiled by germs containing influenza (coughing and sneezing). With more students in close-quarters for a long period of time, students and staff are especially prone to contracting influenza. “The interactions between people are closer and the reason why doctors ask patients to be cautious of this hazard,” adds Austin.  

According to Mayo Clinic, people who have the greatest risk of contracting influenza are younger children and older adults. Symptoms of the flu include: a fever of over 100 °F, headaches, fatigue, nasal congestion, sweats, and chills.  

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) adds that, “People with flu can spread it to others up to about 6 feet away. Most experts think that flu viruses are spread mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk.” In addition, CDC says that, “Children may pass the virus for longer than 7 days. Symptoms start 1 to 4 days after the virus enters the body. That means that you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick. Some people can be infected with the flu virus but have no symptoms.”

“Being cold can decrease a person’s immune defense so that they are more likely to develop illness when exposed to a virus,” says Amanda Aung, a nurse at Steck Elementary in Denver, CO. “Reduced exposure to sunlight and vitamin D production may also play a part as vitamin D contributes to immune health.” Aung adds, “On indoor recess days, students are all cooped up in the auditorium coughing and sneezing on the toys we have for them to play with, spreading the flu.”

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“Vaccines help develop immunity by imitating an infection so that it doesn’t cause an illness, but causes the immune system to produce antibodies against the flu,” says CDC. “Everyone older than 6 months is recommended for a flu vaccination with rare exception. This includes people that have an extreme allergy to eggs, any other sort of allergy to the flu vaccine, or are very sick. A vaccine doesn’t protect against people who already have the flu,” CDC added.

If you do get the flu, you want to take time needed to regain your energy so that the recovery is complete,” according to Aung. “On top of that, it’s important to stay warm. Lastly, I’d suggest a rather bland appetite consisting of saltines and soups.”


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  1. Beck this probably seems pretty weird but I couldn’t find you on any social medias so I googled your name…. But that doesn’t matter! Give me your number because it’s been too long man.