Have you ever wondered why back-to-school season coincides with “flu season?” Part of the reason has to do with children moving from an environment where they spend a good deal of time in their own home or out in the sunlight. Sunlight inhibits the spread of the influenza virus, and not being in proximity to others restricts the possibility of transmission. The school environment changes both conditions.
In the classroom, a single sneeze produces about 40,000 droplets. If these droplets contain the influenza virus, the length of time that the virus survives depends upon the surface on which the droplets land. On hard, non-porous surfaces, like plastic or metal, the life of the flu virus may be one to two days. In a classroom, desktops, doorknobs, and light switches are all conductive media for the flu.
Although influenza may exist in numerous forms, the Type A viruses are those that are common to human beings. Some strains are far more dangerous than others. For example, the world has experienced two pandemic outbreaks of flu, the first of which killed off nearly 5 percent of the world’s population. That happened when the H1NI virus spread around the world between 1918 and 1920.
This strain was so virulent that during a time when world travel was limited to the military and the very wealthy, flu killed off somewhere between 50 million to 100 million people in the remote Pacific Islands and the Arctic area. In total, about 500 million people around the world were infected. Because of the participation of the U.S., Britain, France, and Germany in World War I, the effect of the flu was downplayed in the press. However, in neutral Spain, when King Alfonso XIII got the disease, it was nicknamed “Spanish flu.”...