How do seasonal flus come into existence? Is there a patient 0?

143 views

People always just say something is “going around” or it’s “flu season”, but how and why does it start at the same time every year? Does it just appear in someone one day as patient 0? Or, if it’s just being passed around, theoretically if we all isolated for like a month (obviously we tried this with covid, but I mean literally 0 contact) would we no longer have seasonal flus?

This question is for both the common cold, sinus-type flu, and the stomach flu

Edit: the quarantine question was purely hypothetical, I know it’s practically impossible in reality

In: 1

15 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

All these kinds of illnesses are caused by viruses that like to mutate a lot. Every mutation has the potential to create a new strain but, like most mutations, most of them don’t do anything useful.

So yes, there’s a patient 0 for every strain…somewhere that mutation happened first. If it happens be better at causing the virus to replicate or infect others then it will tend to spread, if not it will tend to disappear.

This is happening constantly…it’s not seasonal. But the ability of respiratory viruses (flu, cold, etc.) to infect others *is* seasonal, because they don’t survive well when it’s hot & dry. So in the fall/winter we get a lot more infections, a lot more virus replication, a lot more mutations.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Well, consider that “flu season” is roughly around Fall and Winter, and these seasons always exist somewhere on Earth. So, these diseases and bacteria don’t necessarily go away, but move with the season. By the time fly season comes back for a specific area it has transmitted and mutated so many times it’s not going to be quite the same as last years.

Anonymous 0 Comments

All these kinds of illnesses are caused by viruses that like to mutate a lot. Every mutation has the potential to create a new strain but, like most mutations, most of them don’t do anything useful.

So yes, there’s a patient 0 for every strain…somewhere that mutation happened first. If it happens be better at causing the virus to replicate or infect others then it will tend to spread, if not it will tend to disappear.

This is happening constantly…it’s not seasonal. But the ability of respiratory viruses (flu, cold, etc.) to infect others *is* seasonal, because they don’t survive well when it’s hot & dry. So in the fall/winter we get a lot more infections, a lot more virus replication, a lot more mutations.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Well, consider that “flu season” is roughly around Fall and Winter, and these seasons always exist somewhere on Earth. So, these diseases and bacteria don’t necessarily go away, but move with the season. By the time fly season comes back for a specific area it has transmitted and mutated so many times it’s not going to be quite the same as last years.

Anonymous 0 Comments

All these kinds of illnesses are caused by viruses that like to mutate a lot. Every mutation has the potential to create a new strain but, like most mutations, most of them don’t do anything useful.

So yes, there’s a patient 0 for every strain…somewhere that mutation happened first. If it happens be better at causing the virus to replicate or infect others then it will tend to spread, if not it will tend to disappear.

This is happening constantly…it’s not seasonal. But the ability of respiratory viruses (flu, cold, etc.) to infect others *is* seasonal, because they don’t survive well when it’s hot & dry. So in the fall/winter we get a lot more infections, a lot more virus replication, a lot more mutations.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Well, consider that “flu season” is roughly around Fall and Winter, and these seasons always exist somewhere on Earth. So, these diseases and bacteria don’t necessarily go away, but move with the season. By the time fly season comes back for a specific area it has transmitted and mutated so many times it’s not going to be quite the same as last years.

Anonymous 0 Comments

The flu virus always wears a jacket, but it has a lot of different jackets to choose from in its wardrobe. Every year, we try to guess which jacket is going to be the most popular among flu viruses, and that’s mainly what goes in that year’s flu vaccine. But the virus can change jackets relatively quickly (compared to other viruses), so unfortunately this has to be an educated guess. And not all the viruses in a given year are wearing the same jacket, we’re just trying to catch the most popular ones that year.

Sometimes the prediction is good, the predicted jacket is all the rage, and we’re ready for it. Sometimes it’s off, because the flu viruses decided there’s a new hotness *after* that year’s vaccine has been made.

But do not for a second believe any of the BS like “I got the shot last year, don’t need it this year” or “the flu vaccine doesn’t work, my cousin got it and still got the flu”. A, like I said, not all flu viruses are identical, and B, last year’s jackets are old news.

*(A bit more detail: the jacket is the virus’s protein shell. There are two main proteins, H and N. Think of it like a two-tone jacket, and the proteins are different colors. The viruses mix and match H and N to make different jackets. [Hence, the descriptions like “H5N1”: literally the 5th H variant and the 1st N variant.])*

Anonymous 0 Comments

There really is no Patient 0. It’s just a word. Patient 0? Take Covid-19. Some people who came back from a visit to China to… well some went to Britain. Some to the U.S. Some to Russia. Pick a place. Pretty much any place. An entire cruise ship, you may remember, was quarantined in Japan. Some late 2019 deaths in the U.S. are suspected of having been from Covid-19. Hundreds of travellers, if not thousands.

Now, about the isolating thing. Yes, you could, but only sort of. I read this great article on npr. Look for the March 30, 2021 article “**Should Masking Last Beyond The Pandemic? Flu And Colds Are Down, Spurring A Debate”**.

Anonymous 0 Comments

The flu virus always wears a jacket, but it has a lot of different jackets to choose from in its wardrobe. Every year, we try to guess which jacket is going to be the most popular among flu viruses, and that’s mainly what goes in that year’s flu vaccine. But the virus can change jackets relatively quickly (compared to other viruses), so unfortunately this has to be an educated guess. And not all the viruses in a given year are wearing the same jacket, we’re just trying to catch the most popular ones that year.

Sometimes the prediction is good, the predicted jacket is all the rage, and we’re ready for it. Sometimes it’s off, because the flu viruses decided there’s a new hotness *after* that year’s vaccine has been made.

But do not for a second believe any of the BS like “I got the shot last year, don’t need it this year” or “the flu vaccine doesn’t work, my cousin got it and still got the flu”. A, like I said, not all flu viruses are identical, and B, last year’s jackets are old news.

*(A bit more detail: the jacket is the virus’s protein shell. There are two main proteins, H and N. Think of it like a two-tone jacket, and the proteins are different colors. The viruses mix and match H and N to make different jackets. [Hence, the descriptions like “H5N1”: literally the 5th H variant and the 1st N variant.])*

Anonymous 0 Comments

To expand what others have said on the 30 days of absolute quarantine. It would be theoretically possible, but impractical, expensive and quite a lot of people would die.

To truly separate everyone from everyone else for a while month, you would need a living space for every single person on this world. That alone is so expensive, its almost impossible.

Then you would need to get every single person worldwide to their living space. That might be easy rural areas, where everybody is already pretty far away from their neighbours, but in city areas and slums, you would need to relocate billions of people for hundreds of kilometers.

Then everybody would need food for a whole month in advance, as well as a wide set of medication in case they get sick. Have fun figuring out the logistics for that.

Then you would need to ensure that EVERY SINGLE PERSON in this world adheres to the isolation. Good luck.

And a lot of people would die, because everybody who needs help from another person (elderly, injured, sick people, people whose house is on fire, …) wouldn’t be able to get help, so they would most likely die.

But we would be rid of the flu and a lot of other diseases.