• Alysa Salzberg

New theory explores how weather might have bred a pandemic

You’ve probably heard theories that tie colder weather to an uptick in COVID-19 cases. There are no absolute certainties about this new disease that’s taken over our lives, but some researchers believe that weather may have played a major role in another pandemic, H1N1, commonly called the Spanish Flu. ….Only, not in the way you might expect.


World War I took place during a climatic anomaly, where weather was colder and wetter than the norm. This not only made trench warfare even more miserable for millions of soldiers; researchers posit that it also changed the migratory patterns of duck populations. Because the ducks stayed behind and lingered close to humans, they were able to more easily transmit the H1N1 virus to them.


The theory is tenuous, but still fascinating. It’s strange to think that an outbreak that ultimately killed up to 100 million people could have started because of ducks and rainy weather.


Read on to learn more about weather’s possible influence on the Spanish Flu pandemic, and a reminder that climate change can affect us in very unexpected ways.



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