Asia Unique in Geography of Flu Outbreaks

Climate, season seen as key in incubating strains of virus
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 17, 2008 12:49 PM CDT
Though strains sometimes return to Asia, by then there is typically enough immunity built up to resist them.   (Shutterstock)
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(Newser) – Researchers have found yet another thing the West imports from China: the flu. East and Southeast Asia serve as a birthplace for new flu strains, the Times of London reports, thanks to the region’s unique mix of climates. By the time Europe and America get the sniffles six to nine months later, it’s usually a rerun of Asian-born strains.

The findings could help immunologists determine which strains to put in each year’s flu vaccine, the Times notes. Influenza is truly a seasonal illness, striking during the tropical rainy season and the winter in temperate zones. In Asia, different climates are so close together, that influenza moves through the region “like a baton … in a relay race,” one researcher explained.