Turn up the thermostat to fight the flu


The flu can take quite a bite out of your wallet, in lost time, doctor's visits and medications. Now comes word that the reason we fight the threat of flu each winter is not because we share close quarters, or because our immune systems are weakened by a lack of sunshine, or because our schools serve as Petri dishes.

According to an article by Gina Kolata in The New York Times, scientists have found evidence that the flu thrives in winter conditions. The air-born virus apparently travels best in cold, dry air, where the encapsulating droplets of water from a sneeze or cough don't pick up additional moisture from the air and grow too fat to remain aloft.

The study found that the virus lived in the air at 41 degrees for two days longer than at 68 degrees, explaining why influenza is seldom a problem in tropical environments.

The study gives a good argument for those of you prone to boost the thermostat. It also suggests air humidifiers have more than just a comfort value. All those extra sweaters you wear won't fend off the flu as well as a little heat and humidity.