Why has this flu season been so mild?

Short answer: We don't know. Despite its ubiquity, there's a lot scientists don't know about the influenza virus. Helen Branswell is a great medical reporter. In this piece for the Winnipeg Free Press she explains why the flu virus makes seemingly simple questions frustratingly difficult to answer.


  1. Normal fluctation in the flu rate?
    More people taking vitamin D3, as per Health Canada’s recommendations?
    Milder Winter, so less time for accumulation of virii and bacteria in the snow?  (Spring is the flu/cold season.)
    Milder Winter, so folks’ immune system less depressed?
    The meltdown at Fujushima killed a lot of the virii?

  2. I’ve heard (too lazy to find source) that cold, dry winter weather makes water droplets that you might, say, sneeze out, travel further, because in warm wet weather, they’d tend to fall faster. Could be bogus, but it would explain the trend here.

  3. Mild my ass, I’ve never been sicker than I was with the stomach flu two weeks ago. I felt like someone hit me with a truck. And I never get sick.

    1.  I got a norovirus and February and ended up hospitalized because of blood coming out of places it shouldn’t.  While there, the staff explained that the stomach flu/norovirus that was pounding me and many others was not at all the same thing as the infuenza virus.

    2.  Rick, yuck!  I’m no doctor, but I think influenza and stomach “flu” are unrelated.  (In fact I think the stomach business isn’t considered a flu at all.)  Seems like influenza is typically defined as something respiratory.  Again…what do I know?  Check The Weather Channel.  They seem to know a lot.

  4. After I read this, I happened to go to The Weather Channel’s web site, and the big headline there is Flu Forces Schools to Close.

    In the related article, the writer states: “A few weeks ago we told you we were experiencing the slowest start to flu season in three decades, according to government officials. Now, as spring allergy and severe weather season begin, we’re seeing widespread flu outbreaks from coast to coast!”

    Naturally, I go to The Weather Channel for all my medical / health info. 

  5. I normally don’t get sick other than very mild colds. This year I was out for several days with the flu. Don’t know what that means. Maybe I’m on a different cycle than most people. I’d feel special but I was miserable.

    1.  I rarely normally get sick either (I had the dubious honor along with two others in my graduating class of having perfect attendance all four years of high school), but got several colds last Fall and this winter. All relatively mild, but even something mild is way more than I usually get. I don’t think I had any flu or anything though.

  6. For some reason everyone seems to be getting stomach virus instead. I’ve never gotten that stomach-sick before in my life. My MOM’s never been that stomach-sick before! I found an article saying instances of stomach virus are up 30% this year in Virginia but not everywhere keeps records consistently so I couldn’t find good numbers on it.

  7. Kinda find this curious; I live in Calgary, and pretty much everyone I know has had the flu at one point or another this season. I caught it back in November, and keep having these mini-relapses, and from comparing stories, it seems to be the same for everyone else, as well. Currently, out of twenty staff at the cafe I work at, there are nine people either trying to kick this thing or just starting to come down with it.

  8. I’ve  been on my ass since last Thursday with the worst flu I’ve had since mono.  And I had the stupid shot!  Screw data, eat my anecdote!

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