ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Childhood Food Allergies on the Rise
New Spray Could Benefit Cystic Fibrosis Patients
Folic Acid Might Offer Allergy Relief
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Needling Away Your Headaches With Acupuncture
Should Your Child Be Seeing a Chiropractor?
Massage Therapy Helps Those With Advanced Cancer
ANIMAL CARE
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
Beware of Dog Bites
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
BONES & JOINTS
Studies Struggle to Gauge Glucosamine's Worth
More Faces Being Spared in Motor Vehicle Accidents
Low Vitamin D Raises Women's Hip Fracture Risk
CANCER
Red Meat No No No But Oily Fish Yes Yes Yes
Healthy Behaviors Slow Functional Decline After Cancer
Vitamin D May Improve Melanoma Survival
CAREGIVING
Study Casts Doubt on Influential Hospital Safety Survey
Memory Loss Help from Brain Supplement Prevagen
Older Caregivers Prone to Worse Sleep Patterns
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Night Shift Work Hard on the Heart
Smog Tougher on the Obese
Drink a Little Wine, Live a Little Longer
COSMETIC
Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
Get Sugared!.... Its a sweet choice for hair removal
Science May Banish Bad Hair Days
DENTAL, ORAL
An Oral Approach to Heart Disease
Biological Product Shows Promise Against Gum Disease
Scientists Find Gene for Tooth Enamel
DIABETES
Saliva Test Could Monitor Type 2 Diabetes
Lifestyle Factors Tied to Older Adults' Diabetes Risk
Poor Blood Sugar Control After Heart Surgery Impacts Outcomes
DIET, NUTRITION
Common Antioxidant Might Slow Parkinson's
Soluble Fiber, But Not Bran, Soothes Irritable Bowel
Fish Oil's Benefits Remain Elusive
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Bed Bugs Bring No Disease Danger
Database Helps Assess Your Breast Cancer Risk
Household Chemicals May Affect Cholesterol Levels
EYE CARE, VISION
Nearly 18 Million Will Have Macular Degeneration by 2050
Kids Who Spend More Time Outdoors Have Better Vision
Don't Lose Sight of Halloween Safety
FITNESS
You Can Get Great Exercise In The Garden
Barefoot Best for Running?
Maximize Your Run
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
GENERAL HEALTH
When Healing Becomes a Commodity
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Meat Additives May Be Dangerous for Kidney Patients
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Low Vitamin D Levels Linked to Heart Disease
Vitamin B3 May Help Repair Brain After a Stroke
Too Much Red Meat May Shorten Life Span
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Chinese 'Devil Dung' Plant Could Be a Swine Flu Fighter
Dry Weather Boosts Odds of Flu Outbreaks
Grapefruit Compound Inhibits Hepatitis C Virus
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Working Intensely Early on May Help Autistic Kids
Bullying Seems to Affect Kids Years Later
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
MEN'S HEALTH
Eating Fast Until Full Triples Overweight Risk
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
Lots of Sex May Prevent Erectile Dysfunction
MENTAL HEALTH
A Simple 'Thank You' Brings Rewards to All
Mind Exercise Might Help Stroke Patients
Environmental Chemicals May Affect Male Reproduction
PAIN
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Expectant Mom's Exercise Keeps Newborn's Birth Weight Down
Sugary Colas Tied to Gestational Diabetes
Pre-Pregnancy Weight Linked to Babies' Heart Problems
SENIORS
Money May Matter, Health-Wise, in Old Age
Nighttime Urination Linked to Higher Death Rate Among Elderly
As You Age, Better Health Means Better Sex
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Exercise, Weight Control May Keep Fibromyalgia at Bay
Rheumatoid Arthritis Rising Among U.S. Women
Vitamin D Deficiency Puts 40% of U.S. Infants and Toddlers At Risk
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