Could Changing Humidity Predict Flu Outbreaks In Maine?
Mainers are well aware of when flu season is: when it's colder and we start moving indoors more often. But, what if these factors aren't all that's involved with the start and end of the flu season?
What if the flu outbreaks happen due to weather changes?
NASA recently shared results from a study that could change how we understand the flu, specifically when weather conditions trigger outbreaks. This information could give us a clue when the flu season and outbreaks could be imminent for the state of Maine.
Traditionally we see the flu season start in our fall and into the spring here in Maine. This new study is observing a possible correlation between changing humidity with increased flu transmission. The study looks to identify when a lessened humidity creates a flu outbreak so, not necessarily a few flu cases here and there but, more specifically, when the flu hits the outbreak status.
Humidity threshold levels of Maine and the Nation
The study expands its scope not just for the State of Maine but across the United States to identify a humidity threshold that could signal when the flu will be possibly more transmissible causing an outbreak. The information seems to suggest that areas that experience lower humidity levels, like those of northern states when the seasons change, experience more flu outbreaks. The study also showed a possible prediction of outbreaks: when humidity thresholds were met for one states' particular humidity threshold, a flu outbreak would occur within 2 to 3 weeks.
Seeing the thresholds across the nation
NASA provided a map showing the threshold for each state with Maine holding a higher threshold for Northern New England states.
More research needs to be done to see the correlation but this study could give us the notion that changing humidity and a specific humidity level could help us identify when flu season will really take off. This information could give the Maine CDC, healthcare practitioners, and the public more awareness on how to avoid the flu in the future.