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Elemental
Your life, sourced by science. A publication from Medium about health and wellness.

Flu

In Elemental. More on Medium.

‘I don’t want to jinx us, but this may turn out to be the mildest flu season on record’

A portrait of a young woman wile wearing a face mask for protection from cold and flu and viruses.
A portrait of a young woman wile wearing a face mask for protection from cold and flu and viruses.
Photo: recep-bg/E+/Getty Images

It’s nearly halfway through the 2020–2021 flu season, and as I walk the halls of the hospital where I work, I realize none of the patients are here with influenza. In fact, only 925 cases of flu have been confirmed in the United States thus far this season, and none in my home state of Montana. This compares to 63,975 confirmed cases in the United States at the same time last year.


It’s been around since 2016 and there’s no evidence it’s circulating in humans, experts say

Photo: Joern Pollex/Getty Images

With the Covid-19 pandemic surging across much of the United States and expected to last for months, the possibility of a global flu pandemic kicking in this fall would scare the pants off any infectious-disease expert. But there is no reason to panic, they say, over a newly identified swine flu strain that researchers in China say does have the potential to become a pandemic.


The second wave of Covid-19 could be worse, and there’s potential for a double whammy

A photo of a woman wearing a mask looking out the window from her home.
A photo of a woman wearing a mask looking out the window from her home.
Photo: Justin Paget/Getty Images

If the Covid-19 case curve continues to flatten and decline in the United States as hoped, the credit will go to physical distancing, improved hygiene awareness, and other preventive measures, experts say. But we should not presume the virus will be licked anytime soon. In fact, many infectious disease experts are worried about a comeback, a second wave, that could strike more quickly and harder than this initial wave of infections.


This symptom chart will help you determine which virus ails you

Woman sneezing behind a window, using a tissue.
Woman sneezing behind a window, using a tissue.
Photo: Guido Mieth/DigitalVision/Getty Images

Editor’s Note: This article is no longer updated and much has been learned about Covid-19 symptoms. For the latest on the disease, visit Elemental’s ongoing coverage of the coronavirus outbreak here.


Misconceptions about hand-washing are as rampant as the germs themselves

A close up hand washing in the kitchen sink.
A close up hand washing in the kitchen sink.
Photo: Moyo Studio/E+/Getty Images

When a highly contagious stomach virus blew through a Colorado school district in November, sickening 30% of students and 20% of staff at one high school, some of the victims felt fine one hour and were vomiting in public the next. It was a reminder of how quickly viruses can make a lot of lives miserable. Especially during winter months. And especially when people don’t wash their hands often and properly.


Champagne remedies, sneezing ferrets, and thousands of years of havoc


Answers to the most pressing questions about the influenza virus, flu vaccine, and everything else you should know

Last year’s flu season was a doozy. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the 2018–19 flu season lasted 21 weeks — making it the longest in a decade. Already this year, the flu has claimed at least one lifea 4-year-old living in Californiawhich has led some public health officials to state that this year’s season may, too, be a rough one.


A century after one of the world’s deadliest pandemics, scientists are making progress on a universal flu vaccine

In 1918, in the final months of World War I, a flu pandemic spread across the world. It may have started among Chinese laborers who were transported in trains across Canada, and was first identified in the U.S. in soldiers. In the absence of vaccines, or antibiotics to treat secondary bacterial infections, the pandemic would eventually infect 500 million people and kill 50 million — 3% of the global population — making it the deadliest pandemic in history after the Black Death.


Ever hear the old wives’ tale that you should ‘feed a cold, starve a fever’? Yeah, don’t do that.

Headache, fever, cough, sore throat, congestion, aches, and pains. There’s no way around it, the flu is miserable. And while there’s still no cure for the virus, that doesn’t mean you’re helpless against it.

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