A reported non-mystery has been circulating in some media outlets, making it seem this strain is more virulent and, therefore, panic-inducing. 

There’s no mystery.

Yes, this flu season started earlier than normal, but the cause is obvious: the early cold weather. In October, Indiana (and most of the nation) experienced a pretty harsh cold snap.  Snow, gusting wind, and intense cold.  Cold weather alone doesn’t cause the flu; thinking minds since Benjamin Franklin’s day knew this.  It’s the confined spaces in which we collect during cold weather that allow viruses and infections to jump easily from one person to the next.  That early cold pushed us all indoors, triggering this early flu.  

Indiana alone has had over a hundred deaths attributed to the current flu strain. A high count, of course, but the early start also skews this number.  The longer the flu season, the more likely its spread, and the more likely it will gestate in the young and the old, the most frequent victims of flu epidemics.

Old advice is best. First, wash your hands! It is dumbfounding how often people neglect washing their hands, even after using the bathroom (you KNOW who you are). In the case of communicable diseases, hand washing becomes imperative, along with covering your mouth when you cough and, most importantly, staying home when you’re sick. That strain of strong Puritan work ethic that courses through us, whispering that if we can stand, we can work? Yeah, that’s stupid.  Don’t listen to that voice.  Stay home, rest and live to work another day, flu-free.

Want to Know More?

Here’s the Center for Disease Control’s advice on preventing the current flu strain.

Harvard Health Publishing released this insightful list of common myths associated with the flu.