Study Links Wildfires to Worsened Flu Season

Study Links Wildfires to Worsened Flu Season

A Montana study has found a link between intense wildfire seasons and a high number of flu cases.

As wildfires rage on in the West and Midwest and Coronavirus cases hold steady from coast to coast, Americans are worried about what might be next. A new study out of Montana suggests it might be a worsened flu season.

The study, authored by researchers at the Center for Population Health Research at the University of Montana as well as those from the state and federal level, found a link between intense wildfire seasons and a high number of flu cases.

The the team researchers analyzed wildfire seasons and influenza cases over a ten-year span in Montana. They found that, after a particularly severe season in 2017, the number of people who contracted the flu the following winter increased from an average of 3,000 to 10,000. 

While researchers are hesitant to say the cause, we know that air population can compromise immune systems. Studies have shown that wildfire smoke has resulted in suppressed immune systems in animals. However, more research will need to be conducted to understand the link between humans, wildfire smoke inhalation and the flu season.

In this age of COVID-19, scientists are looking into if wildfires could cause an uptick in cases.

"It causes inflammation and cell damage to our lungs," said Erin Landguth, a co-author of the study and researcher at the University of Montana. "So all of this suggests a concern and worry for our wildfire season in our region increasing our potential risk factors for COVID-19. Really in these times we want to minimize risk where possible."

To learn more about this study, view it online here.

 

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