More deaths from flu than opioids in 2017

In 2017, the US saw about 50,000 deaths from opioid overdoses. As we’ve noted previously, that’s nearly as many US service men and women who were killed in the entire Vietnam war. But it still falls well short of the 80,000 who died from the flu in the US last year. According to WebMD, that’s more than double what’s expected in a bad flu season. As you may recall from the news last year, there was a poor fit between the active flu strains and the vaccines people were getting. Experts are expecting a milder year in 2018 and are urging people to get vaccinated. I will if you will.

It’s snot great

Americans are experiencing the full wrath of the flu this year, with the CDC reporting that all ten of their administrative regions are experiencing elevated levels of influenza like illness. There’s a few reasons for that. The big one is that this year’s strain is one of the particularly nasty ones; it gets more people sick and makes those people sicker. Plus, this year we got unlucky with the vaccine: it’s only proven to be about 30% effective this year. But hey, at least we’re doing better this flu season than Australia did. Their vaccine only managed to protect 10% of users. Don’t let those rates worry you though, officials are still encouraging getting vaccinated. What else are you gonna do, wrap dirty socks around your neck?

April is National Frog Month, let’s celebrate frog mucus!

If you kiss a frog he might turn into a prince. If you lick a Colorado River toad, you’ll experience a psychedelic high. If you drop a Russian brown frog into a bucket of milk, it will stay fresh without refrigeration. All this, and a source for antibiotics! Now, new research indicates that peptides found in the mucus of certain frogs may be used to kill some influenza viruses. The peptides were collected from the skin secretions of 15 Hydrophylax bahuvistarta frogs and four of the 32 peptides the researchers screened had an impact against the flu virus. One of the four, urumin, was found to be non-toxic to humans and works by directly killing H1 viruses. Take THAT swine flu.

5. Got flu?

Wouldn’t it be great to know who’s got the flu and who doesn’t? Well now there’s an app for that. GSK and MIT Connection Science have partnered to create a crowd sourcing app called Flumoji. The data from the app tracks someone’s social interactions and attempts to match that with when they get the flu. Users can also identify within the app how they’re feeling using Emojis to denote their state of health. Better predictive analysis of health crises is critical and apps like Flumoji might help. Please tell me this will work on a Jitterbug.