Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Episode 598 (10-11-21): The Flu and Water

CLICK HERE to listen to episode audio (5:02).

Sections below are the following:
Transcript of Audio
Audio Notes and Acknowledgments
Extra Information
Related Water Radio Episodes
For Virginia Teachers (Relevant SOLs, etc.).

Unless otherwise noted, all Web addresses mentioned were functional as of 10-8-21.


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of October 25, 2021.  This revised episode from November 2017 is part of a series this fall of episodes on water connections to the human body and human biology.

We start with a public health mystery sound.  Have a listen for about 35 seconds, and see if you can guess what seasonal, precautionary procedure is taking place.  And here’s a hint: thinking feverishly could influence your answer.

SOUNDS and VOICES - ~36 sec

“Any problems with any vaccines before?”
“Feeling OK today?  No fever or anything like that?”

“And no allergies to foods or medications that you’re aware of?”

“So, you know, a little bit of arm soreness; that’s probably the most of it.  Redness, irritation.   Might be kind of tired for a day or so, or even a low-grade fever or a headache is possible and normal.  If that were to happen, whatever you take for a headache is fine.  Any questions about anything?”


“All right.” …

“All right, leave that bandage on for about 10 minutes or so, and take it off anytime you remember after that.  And here’s your copy for your records.  Thanks.”
“Thank you.”

“Have a good day.”

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 U.S. Centers for the Disease Control and Prevention and 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 the CDC recommends getting a flu vaccine by the end of October.  So if you hear this…

VOICE - ~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 some music for, or rather, against the flu.  Here’s about 30 seconds 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 - ~28 sec

“Last year less than half the population got their flu shot.  Why you wanna be stuck at home with a fever when you could be making this party hot?”
“I heard that shot made you ill.”
“Naw, son, that news ain’t for real.  It tells your body what the virus looks like, so it knows how to deal”
“Why you tellin’ me this?  I got my flu shot last year.”
“This virus mutates constantly, we got new strains here.”

“Shots, shots, shots, shots….


Virginia Water Radio is produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, part of Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment.  For more Virginia water sounds, music, or information, visit us online at virginiawaterradio.org, or call the Water Center at (540) 231-5624.  Thanks to Stewart Scales for his banjo version of Cripple Creek to open and close this show.  In Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.


This Virginia Water Radio episode replaces Episode 393, 11-6-17, which has been archived.

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

The audio excerpt of “Shots,” copyright by Wilson Stern, was taken from the 2014 University of Florida Student Health Care Center 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 http://shcc.ufl.edu/services/primary-care/flu/flu-shots-music-video-lyrics/.   More information about Wilson Stern and the group Hail! Cassius Neptune is available online at https://www.reverbnation.com/hailcassiusneptune.

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 http://newstandardbluegrass.com.


Colorized, negative-stained transmission electron microscopic image of influenza virus particles, known as virions.   Public domain photo taken in 1973 by Dr. F. A. Murphy, accessed from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Public Image Library, online at https://phil.cdc.gov/Details.aspx?pid=10072.

Illustration of influenza infection, from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Images of Influenza Viruses,” online at https://www.cdc.gov/flu/resource-center/freeresources/graphics/images.htm.

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Protection weekly map of flu activity, as of 10/2/21.  Map accessed online at https://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/usmap.htm, 10/11/21.

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention chart of work to develop the annual flu virus vaccine, with data for 2020-21.   Image accessed at https://www.cdc.gov/flu/resource-center/freeresources/graphics/infographics.htm.


The following information is quoted from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC), “Types of Influenza Viruses,” November 18, 2019, online at https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/viruses/types.htm.

“There are four types of influenza viruses: A, B, C and D.   Human influenza A and B viruses cause seasonal epidemics of disease (known as the flu season) almost every winter in the United States.  Influenza A viruses are the only influenza viruses known to cause flu pandemics, i.e., global epidemics of flu disease.  A pandemic can occur when a new and very different influenza A virus emerges that both infects people and has the ability to spread efficiently between people.  Influenza type C infections generally cause mild illness and are not thought to cause human flu 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).  …Current sub-types of influenza A viruses that routinely circulate in people include: A (H1N1) and A (H3N2).  In the spring of 2009, a new influenza A (H1N1) virus emerged to cause illness in people. …

“Currently circulating influenza A(H1N1) viruses are related to the pandemic 2009 H1N1 virus that emerged in the spring of 2009 and caused a flu pandemic ( see CDC 2009 H1N1 Flu website for more information).  This virus, scientifically called the ‘A(H1N1)pdm09 virus,’ and more generally called ‘2009 H1N1,’ has continued to circulate seasonally since then.  These H1N1 viruses have undergone relatively small genetic changes and changes to their antigenic properties (i.e., the properties of the virus that affect immunity) over time.

“Of all the influenza viruses that routinely circulate and cause illness in people, influenza A(H3N2) viruses tend to change more rapidly, both genetically and antigenically. …

“Influenza B viruses are not divided into subtypes, but instead are further classified into two lineages: B/Yamagata and B/Victoria. …Influenza B viruses generally change more slowly in terms of their genetic and antigenic properties than influenza A viruses, especially influenza A(H3N2) viruses.  Influenza surveillance data from recent years shows co-circulation of influenza B viruses from both lineages in the United States and around the world.  However, the proportion of influenza B viruses from each lineage that circulate can vary by geographic location.

“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).

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


Used for Audio

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 http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0161929. 

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 http://jvi.asm.org/content/88/14/7692.full (subscription may be required for access).

Anice C. Lowen et al., “Influenza Virus Transmission Is Dependent on Relative Humidity and Temperature,” PLOS, 10/19/07, online at http://journals.plos.org/plospathogens/article?id=10.1371/journal.ppat.0030151.

Public Library of Science, “Higher indoor humidity inactivates flu virus particles,” posted by Science Daily, 2/27/13, online at https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130227183456.htm.

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 (Center for Disease Control and Prevention), Vol. 12/No. 1, January 2006, online at https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/12/1/05-0979_article.

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
“Chemical Disinfectants,” online at https://www.cdc.gov/infectioncontrol/guidelines/disinfection/disinfection-methods/chemical.html;
“Flu Activity and Surveillance,” online at https://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/fluactivitysurv.htm (includes a weekly nationwide map of flu activity);
“The Flu: Caring for Someone Sick at Home,” online (as PDF) at https://www.cdc.gov/flu/pdf/freeresources/general/influenza_flu_homecare_guide.pdf;
“Flu Season,” online at https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/flu-season.htm;
“How Flu Spreads,” online at https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/disease/spread.htm;
“Influenza (Flu),” online at https://www.cdc.gov/flu/index.html;
“Influenza in Animals,” online at
https://www.cdc.gov/flu/other_flu.htm (information on flu in bats, birds, dogs, swine, and other animals);
“Information on Avian Influenza,” online at https://www.cdc.gov/flu/avianflu/;
“National Influeza Vaccination Week,” online at https://www.cdc.gov/flu/resource-center/nivw/index.htm;
“Prevent Seasonal Flu,” online at
“Who Should and Who Should NOT Get a Flu Vaccination,” online at

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Pandemic Influenza Fact Sheet for the Water Sector, 2009.

Virginia Department of Health, “Epidemiology Fact Sheets/Influenza,” September 2018, online at http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/epidemiology/epidemiology-fact-sheets/influenza/.

World Health Organization (WHO), “Influenza (Avian and other zoonotic),” November 13, 2018, online at https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/influenza-(avian-and-other-zoonotic).

For More Information about Water and the Human Body

Isabel Lorenzo et al., “The Role of Water Homeostasis in Muscle Function and Frailty: A Review,” Nutrients, Vol. 11, No. 8 (August 2019, accessed online at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6723611/ (subscription may be required for access).

Mayo Clinic Health System, “Water: Essential to your body,” online at https://www.mayoclinichealthsystem.org/hometown-health/speaking-of-health/water-essential-to-your-body.

U.S. Geological Survey, “The Water in You: Water and the Human Body,” https://www.usgs.gov/special-topic/water-science-school/science/water-you-water-and-human-body?qt-science_center_objects=0#qt-science_center_objects.


All Water Radio episodes are listed by category at the Index link above (http://www.virginiawaterradio.org/p/index.html).  See particularly the “Science” subject category.

Following are links to other episodes on connections of water to human biology.  Please note that some of these episodes are being redone in fall 2021; in those cases, the respective links below will have information on the updated episodes. 

Overview of water’s roles in the body – Episode 592, 8-30-21.
Disease: COVID-19 – Episode 517, 3-23-20 and Episode 519, 4-6-20.
Circulatory system connections to water – Episode 593, 9-6-21.
Muscular system connections to water – Episode 596, 9-27-21,
Neurological system connections to water –
Episode 594, 9-13-21.
Skeleton system connections to water – Episode 595, 9-20-21.
Water intake and exercise – Episode 466, 4-1-19.
Water thermodynamics –
Episode 195, 1-6-14.


Following are some Virginia Standards of Learning (SOLs) that may be supported by this episode’s audio/transcript, sources, or other information included in this post.

2020 Music SOLs 

SOLs at various grade levels that call for “examining the relationship of music to the other fine arts and other fields of knowledge.”

2018 Science SOLs 

Grades K-4: Living Systems and Processes
4.3 – Organisms, including humans, interact with one another and with the nonliving components in the ecosystem.

Grades K-5: Earth and Space Systems
2.7 – Weather patterns and seasonal changes affect plants, animals, and their surroundings.

Grade 6
6.6 – Water has unique physical properties and has a role in the natural and human-made environment, including that water is important for agriculture, power generation, and public health.

Life Science
LS.2 – All living things are composed of one or more cells that support life processes, as described by the cell theory, including that cell structure and organelles support life processes.
LS.3     – There are levels of structural organization in living things, including that similar characteristics determine the classification of organisms.

BIO.4 – Bacteria and viruses have an effect on living systems.

2015 Social Studies SOLs 

Civics and Economics Course
CE.6 – Government at the national level.
CE.7 – Government at the state level. 

Government Course
GOVT.7 – National government organization and powers.
GOVT.8 – State and local government organization and powers. 

Virginia’s SOLs are available from the Virginia Department of Education, online at http://www.doe.virginia.gov/testing/.

Following are links to Water Radio episodes (various topics) designed especially for certain K-12 grade levels.

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 333, 9-12-16 – on dissolved gases, especially dissolved oxygen in aquatic habitats, for 5th grade.
Episode 403, 1-15-18 – on freezing and ice, for kindergarten through 3rd grade.
Episode 404, 1-22-18 – on ice on ponds and lakes, for 4th through 8th grade.
Episode 406, 2-5-18 – on ice on rivers, for middle school.
Episode 407, 2-12-18 – on snow chemistry and physics, for high school.
Episode 483, 7-29-19 – on buoyancy and drag, for middle school and high school.
Episode 524, 5-11-20 – on sounds by water-related animals, for elementary school through high school.
Episode 531, 6-29-20 – on various ways that animals get water, for 3rd and 4th grade.
Episode 539, 8-24-20 – on basic numbers and facts about Virginia’s water resources, for 4th and 6th grade.