ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
Asthmatics Who Quit Smoking May Reverse Lung Damage
Obesity May Raise Kids' Allergy Risk
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Wristbands May Lessen Nausea After Radiation
Health Tip: Anticipating Acupuncture
Tai Chi: An Ideal Exercise for Many People with Diabetes
ANIMAL CARE
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
Beware of Dog Bites
BONES & JOINTS
Gene Plays Key Role in Clubfoot
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Barefoot Lifestyle Has Its Dangers
CANCER
Massage Therapy Helps Those With Advanced Cancer
Vitamin D Good for Breast Cancer Patients
More Cancer Tests Mean More False-Positive Results
CAREGIVING
UV Lights, Fans May Curb TB Spread in Hospitals
ER Less Likely to Diagnose Stroke in Younger Folks
Injected Medication Errors a Major Problem
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Grapefruit-Heavy Diet Helped Spur Dangerous Clot
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
Walk 100 Steps a Minute for 'Moderate' Exercise
COSMETIC
Health Tip: After Liposuction
New Genetic Links to Baldness Discovered
What to Do If You Have Unsightly Veins
DENTAL, ORAL
Amino Acid May Be Key to Strong Teeth
A Sweet Way to Shield Baby's Teeth
Gum Disease May Reactivate AIDS Virus
DIABETES
Saliva Test Could Monitor Type 2 Diabetes
Abnormal Heart Rhythm Boosts Death Risk for Diabetics
Study Shows Turmeric May Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
DIET, NUTRITION
Keep Stress Off the Holiday Meal Menu, Expert Advises
Many Cancer Survivors Don't Adopt Healthy Lifestyle
Low Vitamin D Levels May Initiate Cancer Development
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
'Safe' Ozone Levels May Not Be for Some
U.S. Diet Needs Heart-Felt Overhaul
Pilots May Face Greater Cancer Risk
EYE CARE, VISION
Florida Vision Test Law: Fewer Traffic Deaths Among Elderly
Just Like Skin, Eyes Can 'Burn' in Strong Sun
Drinking Green Tea May Protect Eyes
FITNESS
After a Stroke, Light Exercise Gets Hands, Arms Working Again
Will the Wii Keep You Fit?
Community Exercise Programs Boost Seniors' Strength
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Bowel Prep Harder on Women Than Men
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
GENERAL HEALTH
Study Supports Swine Flu's Pandemic Potential
To Quit Smoking, Try Logging On
Swine Flu Fatality Rate a 'Little Bit' Higher Than That of Seasonal Flu
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Toothbrushing May Stave Off Heart Woes
An Apple a Day May Help Keep Heart Disease Away
How Weight Loss Can Help the Heart
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Is Now a Pandemic Says W.H.O.
The HPV Vaccine: Preventative Medicine or Human Sacrifice?
Swine Flu Now Reported in All 50 States
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Backpack Safety Should Be on Back-to-School Lists
Mom's Extra Pregnancy Pounds May Raise Child's Heart Risks
School Phys. Ed. Injuries Up 150 Percent
MEN'S HEALTH
Vigorous Exercise Cuts Stroke Risk for Men, Not Women
More Vitamin C May Mean Less Chance of Gout
The Dark Side of Vegetarianism
MENTAL HEALTH
Daily dose of beet juice promotes brain health in older adults
Chocolate a Sweet Pick-Me-Up for the Depressed
Reminiscing Helps Build Emotional Strength
PAIN
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
Placebo Acupuncture Tied to Higher IVF Pregnancies
Breast-Feeding May Protect a Woman's Heart
SENIORS
Daily dose of beet juice promotes brain health in older adults
Exercise Helps Reduce Falls in Young and Old
Rapid Weight Loss in Seniors Signals Higher Dementia Risk
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Exercise As Well As Acupuncture, May Ease Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Postmenopausal Women With Breast Cancer Face Joint Issues
Exercise, Weight Control May Keep Fibromyalgia at Bay
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