A recent study conducted by a team of scientists led by Sherry Towers, research professor in the Mathematical, Computational and Modeling Sciences Center at Arizona State University, warns that the U.S should soon be prepared for more severe flu seasons due to climate change.
The scientists analyzed the patterns of influenza and climate for the period between 1997 and 2013. The data they used were provided by Centers for Disease Control, and indicated that warm winters have generally been followed by heavy flue outbreaks. Their goal was to understand the character and trajectory of influenza.
According to Towers, the reason is the lack of immunity that most people have because they do not contract influenza during warm winters. The situation is worsened by an early start of the flu season, which comes as a surprise to many, who have not reacted fast enough to get vaccinated.
This year the flu season began early and it is very severe. In 2011-2012 tracking efforts went into effect, as flue transmission is much less with warm and humid conditions. The season had the lowest peak of flu, and it is known to have been the fourth warmest winter on record.
The authors of the study, which was released online in PLOS Currents: Influenza, are convinced that as climate continues to warm, the impact of flu will be felt more heavily.
The findings of this research should be used for better preparedness and improvement of vaccination programs, according to Gerardo Chowell-Puente, an associate professor in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.