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Study Suggests On Average, Adults Get the Flu Every Five Years


As Americans begin to exit cold and flu season, they may be thanking the heavens that spring is around the corner (unless they have allergies). We make sure to protect ourselves before winter sets in; with flu shots and mandatory stay home days for ill staff. The aches and pains that eventually appear include a side of nausea and fatigue. But how many times do healthy adults catch a real flu in their lifetimes? The answer may surprise you.

According to new research, adults only catch the real flu once every five years. The study, which analyzed Chinese data, found that the flu-like symptoms people feel throughout the winter are caused by infections that are similar to the flu. This may explain why people find the flu shot to be ineffective – if they are sick and it feels like flu, it may not actually be that. The study tested blood samples from around 150 participants between the ages of seven and 81 in order to determine how often flu infections occur. The researchers were looking at nine main strains of flu that were known to be circulating the globe between 1968 and 2009.

In a more unsurprising result, the study found that children get the flu every other year. As expected, flu infections became less frequent with age. This is probably due to the fact that younger children have not fully grasped proper hygiene nor do they think about it the same way as adults. Children may not be thinking about future illness, but adults certainly are. The study found that from age 30 onward, flu infections tended to occur at a stead rate of about two per decade in the adult participants.

This study is going to be conducted in the United Kingdom in order to see if the findings are consistent with the Chinese data. Since the two countries are vastly different in their population sizes, culture, and environment, it will be important to see if the same rates occur in both. Once the research has been conducted, it could lead to better understanding of our own illnesses and their causes.

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Used under Creative Commons Licensing courtesy of Ilmicrofono Oggiono

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