BY CLIMATE & CAPITAL MEDIA
Scientists have found a link between a heightened risk of flu and rapid weather swings that have become increasingly common in recent years due to climate change, according to a study published in the journal Environmental Research Letters. The researchers analyzed surface temperatures, weather patterns, and health records from January 1, 1997, to February 28, 2018, a total of 7,729 days. They found that years with intense weather fluctuations in the autumn months incited the flu, creating a robust patient population early in a flu season that continued to grow throughout the winter.
“The historical flu data from different parts of the world showed that the spread of flu epidemic had been more closely tied to rapid weather variability, implying that the lapsed human immune system in winter caused by rapidly changing weather makes a person more susceptible to flu virus,” Zhaohua Wu, an atmospheric scientist at Florida State University and co-author of the new study, said in a statement. “The autumn rapid weather variability and its characteristic change in a warming climate may serve not only as a skillful predictor for the spread of flu in the following season but also a good estimator of future flu risk,” he said.