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What do changes in weather and stressed-out birds have to do with your health? In a study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Jeffry Shaman of Columbia University and Marc Lipsitch of Harvard University are beginning to see a new link between La NiÃ±a conditions and outbreaks of the flu that could help governments and public health officials determine when the next pandemic will strike.
To examine the connection between La NiÃ±a and flu pandemics, Shaman and Lipsitch looked at the four most recent, well-dated human influenza pandemics 1918, 1957, 1968 and 2009 and compared them to El NiÃ±o Southern Oscillation conditions. Is the relationship between the two causal or coincidental? What other factors could contribute to this strange concurrence? Find out more online at http://www.earthmagazine.org/article/la-ni%C3%B1a-could-set-stage-flu-pandemics.