More severe flu seasons in offing

Last Updated: Tue, Jan 29, 2013 09:10 hrs

Washington, Jan 29 (IANS) Climate change is likely prompt more severe flu seasons, says a new research.

Scientists led by Sherry Towers, research professor in the Mathematical, Computational and Modelling Sciences Centre at Arizona State University, studied waves of flu and climate patterns in the US from the 1997-1998 season to the present.

The team's analysis, which used Centres for Disease Control data, indicates a pattern for both A and B strains: warm winters are usually followed by heavy flu seasons, the journal Public Library Of Science Currents: Influenza reports.

"It appears that fewer people contract influenza during warm winters, and this causes a major portion of the population to remain vulnerable into the next season, causing an early and strong emergence," said Towers, according to an Arizona statement.

"And when a flu season begins exceptionally early, much of the population has not had a chance to get vaccinated, potentially making that flu season even worse," Towers said.

If global warming continues, warm winters will become more common, and the impact of flu will likely be more heavily felt, say the study's authors.

Mathematical epidemiologist Gerardo Chowell-Puente, from the School of Human Evolution and Social Change in the Arizona University College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, added: "The expedited manufacture and distribution of vaccines and aggressive vaccination programs could significantly diminish the severity of future influenza epidemics."

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