ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Traffic, Dust Linked to Asthma in Kids
Obesity May Raise Kids' Allergy Risk
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Green Tea May Help Brain Cope With Sleep Disorders
Naprapathy: A Hands-On Approach to Pain Management
Should Your Child Be Seeing a Chiropractor?
ANIMAL CARE
Safe Toys for Dogs
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
BONES & JOINTS
In Elderly Women, Hip Fractures Often Follow Arm Breaks
Vitamin K Doesn't Slow Bone Loss
Postmenopausal Women With Breast Cancer Face Joint Issues
CANCER
Study Cites Gains in Gall Bladder Cancer Treatment
Meditation May Reduce Stress in Breast Cancer Patients
Women Smokers Lose 14.5 Years Off Life Span
CAREGIVING
Caregivers Face Multiple Strains Tending Older Parents
More Than 60,000 Patients Risked Hepatitis Infections
Preventing Shaken Baby Syndrome
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Drink a Little Wine, Live a Little Longer
Support Network May Play Role in Benefits of Drinking
Night Shift Work Hard on the Heart
COSMETIC
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
What to Do If You Have Unsightly Veins
Study Evaluates Laser Therapies for Hair Removal
DENTAL, ORAL
Biological Product Shows Promise Against Gum Disease
Hormones May Be to Blame for Women's Cavity Rates
Laser Technology Spots Cavities Before They Start
DIABETES
Vitamin K Slows Insulin Resistance in Older Men
Strict Blood Sugar Lowering Won't Ease Diabetes Heart Risk
Red-Grape Compound May Improve Diabetes
DIET, NUTRITION
Adding Garlic Might Cut Cancer Risk
Most Fast-Food French Fries Cooked in Unhealthiest Oil
Is Your Refrigerator Getting Enough Attention For Your Raw Food Success?
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Topical Drugs May Pollute Waterways
Gas Stove Emissions Boost Asthma in Inner-City Kids
Lead Exposure in Childhood Linked to Criminal Behavior Later
EYE CARE, VISION
Green Tea May Ward Off Eye Disease
Glaucoma Treatment Can Prevent Blindness
Retinal Gene Is Linked to Childhood Blindness
FITNESS
Study Shows Exercise Shields Against Osteoporosis
The 3LS Wellness Program for Reversing Chronic Symptoms and Creating Lasting Health
The Juice From Beetroots May Boost Stamina
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
GENERAL HEALTH
Life Expectancy in U.S. Hits New High
Good Sleepers More Likely to Eat Right
Biomarkers May Help Measure Rate of Decline in Dementia
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
The Internet Is Becoming One-Stop Shopping for Health Help
Subway Defibrillators Save Lives
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Toothbrushing May Stave Off Heart Woes
Omega-6 Fatty Acids Can Be Good for You
Risk Factor for Stroke More Common Among Whites
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
Swine Flu Now Reported in All 50 States
Surgical Masks Could Prevent Flu, Maybe
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Obese Children More Likely to Suffer Lower Body Injuries
Gene Variation Found in Boys With Delinquent Peers
Eating Fish, Breast-Feeding Boost Infant Development
MEN'S HEALTH
Eating Fast Until Full Triples Overweight Risk
Drinking Green Tea May Slow Prostate Cancer
Soy Linked to Low Sperm Count
MENTAL HEALTH
Environmental Chemicals May Affect Male Reproduction
Teen Internet Addicts More Likely to Self-Harm: Study
Massage Fosters Healing in Bereaved Relatives
PAIN
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Sugary Colas Tied to Gestational Diabetes
Woman in America Are Delaying Motherhood, Study Says
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
SENIORS
Tai Chi May Help Ward Off Knee Pain in Seniors
Any Old Cane Won't Do
15-Point Test Gauges Alzheimer's Risk
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Pre-Pregnancy Weight Linked to Babies' Heart Problems
Calcium Helps Ward Off Colon Cancer
Postmenopausal Women With Breast Cancer Face Joint Issues
Add your Article

Dry Weather Boosts Odds of Flu Outbreaks

Rain and snow may seem like perfect incubators for the flu, but new research suggests that low humidity and unusually dry skies might be responsible for increases in influenza, such as those that occur during winter months.

Previous research has suggested that humidity is connected to seasonal epidemics of flu, but studies have usually focused on relative humidity, as opposed to absolute humidity. Relative humidity, which varies with temperature, is the ratio of water vapor content in the air to the saturating level. Absolute humidity, which is the actual level of water in the air, does not depend on temperature, but often reaches lower levels in the winter than in the summer.

"In some areas of the country, a typical summer day can have four times as much water vapor as a typical winter day -- a difference that exists both indoors and outdoors," Jeffrey Shaman, an Oregon State University atmospheric scientist and lead author of the new study, said in a news release from the Public Library of Science.

Shaman and his colleagues created a mathematical model of influenza and plugged 31 years of absolute humidity data into it. They found that influenza outbreaks in the winter often happened right after a period of unusually dry weather, according to their report published online Feb. 22 in PLoS Biology.

"This dry period is not a requirement for triggering an influenza outbreak, but it was present in 55 to 60 percent of the outbreaks we analyzed so it appears to increase the likelihood of an outbreak," Shaman said. "The virus response is almost immediate; transmission and survival rates increase and about 10 days later, the observed influenza mortality rates follow."

Irene Eckstrand, of the U.S. National Institute of General Medical Sciences program, explained in the news release: "The discovery of a link between influenza outbreaks and absolute humidity could have a major impact on the development of strategies for limiting the spread of infection. Understanding why outbreaks arise is an important first step toward containing or even preventing them, so it is essential for scientists to follow-up on this intriguing connection."

SOURCES: Public Library of Science, news release, Feb. 22, 2010 Published on: February 23, 2010