Monday, November 6, 2017

Episode 393 (11-6-17): The Flu and Water

CLICK HERE to listen to episode audio (4:43).

Transcript of audio, notes on the audio, photos, and additional information follow below.

All Web addresses mentioned were functional as of 11-3-17.


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of November 6, 2017.

This week, we feature a medical mystery sound.  Have a listen for about 35 seconds, and see if you can guess what kind of seasonal, precautionary procedure is taking place.  And here’s a hint: thinking feverishly could influence your answer.

SOUNDS - ~36 sec

If you guessed, a flu shot, you’re right!  You heard an influenza vaccination being given in October 2017 at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg.  Flu season arrives every year with colder weather, bringing the potential to cause fever, body aches, and other symptoms, some quite serious or even fatal.  The flu affects millions of people in the United States each year, and health agencies like the Virginia Department of Health encourage vaccination for everyone older than six months, with some exceptions.

But what does the flu have to do with water?  Consider these three connections.

First, drinking plenty of fluids is a commonly prescribed treatment for flu sufferers in order to help prevent dehydration resulting from increased body temperature and other responses to the viral infection.  Infants, children, and the elderly are particularly at risk for dehydration.

Second, the flu virus is transmitted between humans by respiratory droplets, and researchers have found that transmission is affected by air temperature and humidity. Specifically, transmission occurs more easily in cold, dry air, such as is typically found during fall and winter in temperate areas like Virginia.

Third, waterfowl and shorebirds are among the various kinds of birds that harbor avian flu viruses, and water contaminated with aquatic birds’ waste can potentially harbor avian flu for some time.  Understanding the factors related to the occurrence and transmission of avian viruses—including the role of contaminated water—is important in monitoring avian flu and its potential to spread to other birds, mammals, or humans.

Flu season is upon us, and national Influenza Vaccination Week is Dec. 3-9, 2017.  So if you hear this…

SOUND ~3 sec – “Are you here for a flu shot?”

…now you’ll have not only a health connection for the flu, but some hydrological ones, too.

Thanks to staff of Kroger Pharmacy and Hokie Wellness for lending their voices to this episode.

We close with a few seconds of music for, or rather, against the flu.  Here’s part of “Shots,” written by Wilson Stern and performed in a 2014, flu-shot-promoting video by the University of Florida’s Student Health Care Center.

MUSIC - ~27 sec


For more Virginia water sounds, music, and information, visit us online at, or call us at (540) 231-5463.  Virginia Water Radio is produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, part of Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment.  Thanks to Stewart Scales for his banjo version of Cripple Creek to open and close the show.  In Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.


The audio excerpt of “Shots,” copyright by Wilson Stern, was taken from the 2014 video “Flu Shots,” copyright by the University of Florida; used with permission of Wilson Stern and the University of Florida’s Division of Media Properties.  The 2 min./4 sec. video is available online at   More information about Wilson Stern and the group Hail! Cassius Neptune is available online at

The influenza vaccination heard in this episode was performed October 24, 2017, at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, by staff of Kroger Pharmacies (online at, assisted by staff from Virginia Tech’s Hokie Wellness program (online at  Virginia Water Radio thanks those staff people for their willingness to be recorded.

Click here if you’d like to hear the full version (1 min./11 sec.) of the “Cripple Creek” arrangement/performance by Stewart Scales that opens and closes this episode.  More information about Mr. Scales and the group New Standard, with which Mr. Scales plays, is available online at


Colorized, negative-stained transmission electron microscopic image of influenza virus particles, or “virions.”   Public domain photo taken in 1973 by Dr. F. A. Murphy, accessed from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Public Image Library, online at
Centers for Disease Control and Protection weekly map of flu activity, as of 10/28/17.  Map accessed online at, 11/6/17.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) chart of laboratory work on flu viruses with data for 2016-17.   Image accessed at


From Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC), “Types of Influenza Viruses,” September 27, 2017, online at

“There are four types of influenza viruses: A, B, C and D.   Human influenza A and B viruses cause seasonal epidemics of disease almost every winter in the United States.  The emergence of a new and very different influenza A virus to infect people can cause an influenza pandemic.   Influenza type C infections generally cause a mild respiratory illness and are not thought to cause epidemics.  Influenza D viruses primarily affect cattle and are not known to infect or cause illness in people.

”Influenza A viruses are divided into subtypes based on two proteins on the surface of the virus: the hemagglutinin (H) and the neuraminidase (N).  There are 18 different hemagglutinin subtypes and 11 different neuraminidase subtypes. (H1 through H18 and N1 through N11 respectively.)

“Influenza A viruses can be further broken down into different strains.   Current sub-types of influenza A viruses found in people are influenza A (H1N1) and influenza A (H3N2) viruses.  In the spring of 2009, a new influenza A (H1N1) virus emerged to cause illness in people.  This virus was very different from the human influenza A (H1N1) viruses circulating at that time.   The new virus caused the first influenza pandemic in more than 40 years.  That virus (often called “2009 H1N1”) has now replaced the H1N1 virus that was previously circulating in humans.

“Influenza B viruses are not divided into sub-types, but can be further broken down into lineages and strains.  Currently circulating influenza B viruses belong to one of two lineages: B/Yamagata and B/Victoria.

“CDC follows an internationally accepted naming convention for influenza viruses.  This convention was accepted by WHO [World Health Organization] in 1979 and published in February 1980 in the Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 58(4):585-591 (1980) (see A revision of the system of nomenclature for influenza viruses: a WHO Memorandum[854 KB, 7 pages]).  The approach uses the following components:
*the antigenic type (e.g., A, B, C);
*the host of origin (e.g., swine, equine, chicken, etc.; for human-origin viruses, no host of origin designation is given);
*geographical origin (e.g., Denver, Taiwan, etc.);
*strain number (e.g., 15, 7, etc.);
*year of isolation (e.g., 57, 2009, etc.);
*for influenza A viruses, the hemagglutinin and neuraminidase antigen description in parentheses (e.g., (H1N1).
A/duck/Alberta/35/76 (H1N1) for a virus from duck origin;
A/Perth/16/2009 (H3N2) for a virus from human origin.

“Influenza A (H1N1), A (H3N2), and one or two influenza B viruses (depending on the vaccine) are included in each year’s influenza vaccine.”


U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
“Information on Avian Influenza,” online at;
“Flu,” online at;
“Flu Activity and Surveillance,” online at;
“The Flu: Caring for Someone Sick at Home,” online (as PDF) at;
“National Influeza Vaccination Week,” online at;
“National Vaccination Week 2016 Key Messages,” online at;
“Other Types of Flu,” online at (information on flu in bats, birds, dogs, swine, and other animals).

Antonia E. Dalziel et al., “Persistence of Low Pathogenic Influenza A Virus in Water: A Systematic Review and Quantitative Meta-Analysis,” PLOS One, 10/13/16, online at

Christina Faust et al., “Filter-feeding bivalves can remove avian influenza viruses from water and reduce infectivity,” Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 8/5/09, online at

Anice C. Lowen and John Steel, “Roles of Humidity and Temperature in Shaping Influenza Seasonality,” Journal of Virology, Vol. 88/No. 14, July 2014, pages 7692-7695; online at (subscription may be required for access at this site).

Anice C. Lowen et al., “Influenza Virus Transmission Is Dependent on Relative Humidity and Temperature,” PLOS, 10/19/07, online at

Poultry World, Bird flu can survive 150 days in water, 6/10/09.

Public Library of Science, “Higher indoor humidity inactivates flu virus particles,” Science Daily, 2/27/13, online at

David Robson, The Real Reason Germs Spread in Winter, BBC Future, 10/19/15.

Jeffery K. Taugenberger and David M. Morens, “1918 Influenza: The Mother of All Pandemics,” Emerging Infectious Diseases, Vol. 12/No. 1, January 2006, online at

U.S. EPA, Pandemic Influenza Fact Sheet for the Water Sector, 2009.

Virginia Department of Health, “Epidemiology Fact Sheets/Influenza,” September 2013, online at

World Health Organization, “Avian Influenza: Food Safety Issues” (undated), online at


All Water Radio episodes are listed by category at the Index link above (  See particularly the Science subject category.

Following are links to other episodes focusing on human biology or health:
Episode 93, 12-19-11 – water in the human nervous system;
Episode 287, 10-26-15 – water and the human skeleton;
Episode 392, 10-30-17 – water and the human circulatory system.


The episode may help with Virginia 2013 Music SOLs at various grade levels that call for “examining the relationship of music to the other fine arts and other fields of knowledge.”

This episode may also help with the following Virginia 2010 Science SOLs:

Grades K-6 Earth Resources Theme
3.10- impacts on survival of species, including effects of fire, flood, disease, and erosion on organisms.

Grades K-6 Living Systems Theme
6.7 - natural processes and human interactions that affect watershed systems; Va. watersheds, water bodies, and wetlands; health and safety issues; and water monitoring.

Life Science Course
LS.8 - community and population interactions, including food webs, niches, symbiotic relationships.
LS.11 - relationships between ecosystem dynamics and human activity.

Biology Course
BIO.4 – life functions (including metabolism and homeostasis) in different organism groups, including human health, anatomy, and body systems.

The episode may also help with the following Virginia 2015 Social Studies SOLs:

Civics and Economics Course
CE.6 – government at the national level.
CE.7 – government at the state level.
CE.10 – public policy at local, state, and national levels.

World Geography Course
WG.2 - how selected physical and ecological processes shape the Earth’s surface, including climate, weather, and how humans influence their environment and are influenced by it.
WG.18 - cooperation among political jurisdictions to solve problems and settle disputes.

Government Course
GOVT.7 – national government organization and powers.
GOVT.8 – state and local government organization and powers.
GOVT.9 – public policy process at local, state, and national levels.

Virginia’s SOLs are available from the Virginia Department of Education, online at

Following are links to previous Water Radio episodes (various topics) designed especially for certain K-12 grade levels.
Episode 249, 1-19-15 – on freezing and ice, for kindergarten through 3rd grade;
Episode 250, 1-26-15 – on boiling, for kindergarten through 3rd grade;
Episode 255, 3-2-15 – on density, for 5th and 6th grade;
Episode 282, 9-21-15 – on living vs. non-living, for kindergarten;
Episode 309, 3-28-16 – on temperature regulation in animals, for kindergarten through 12th grade;
Episode 332, 9-12-16 – on dissolved gases, especially dissolved oxygen in aquatic habitats, for 5th grade.