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Influenza and humidity – Why a bit more damp may be good for you!

  • Jane A. Metz
    Affiliations
    Bristol Childrens Vaccine Centre, University of Bristol and Bristol Royal Hospital for Children, Level 6, UHB Education and Research Centre, Upper Maudlin St., Bristol BS2 8AE, UK
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  • Adam Finn
    Correspondence
    Corresponding author. Tel.: +44 1173420172.
    Affiliations
    Bristol Childrens Vaccine Centre, University of Bristol and Bristol Royal Hospital for Children, Level 6, UHB Education and Research Centre, Upper Maudlin St., Bristol BS2 8AE, UK
    Search for articles by this author
Published:April 24, 2015DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jinf.2015.04.013

      Summary

      Influenza viruses cause much winter-time morbidity and death in temperate regions. We still do not understand why 'flu is more common in winter. Since the 1960s, investigators have studied the role of relative humidity and temperature on viral survival, transmission and infection rates but results have demonstrated only inconclusive trends. Over the past few years however, a series of exciting studies have instead focussed on absolute humidity and demonstrated highly significant correlations with viral survival and transmission rates in both laboratory and epidemiological models. Here we review the evidence for a causal association between absolute humidity and 'flu transmission and outline how this could lead to a new approach to curbing this and perhaps other viral epidemics in the winter months.

      Keywords

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