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September 14, 2010

The More Popular You Are, The Earlier You Get Flu (2 Weeks to be Exact)

Actual research was done regarding whether popularity predicts flu trends. Dr Fowler at UCSD and Dr. Christakis at Harvard found that "popular" friends on average get flu 2 weeks before everyone else.

The way this friendship paradox works is as follows: If a person is asked to name a friend, that friend is statistically likely to be more popular than the original individual. Such "popular" individuals typically interact with more people increasing the likelihood of their coming into contact with flu and becoming sick from it earlier than those who are not as popular.

This finding kind of reminds of how miners use a canary bird as an early warning system to see if there are toxic levels of carbon monoxide present before it causes harm to humans.

Read a Reuters story on this research here.
Fauquier blog
Fauquier ENT

Dr. Christopher Chang is a private practice otolaryngology, head & neck surgeon specializing in the treatment of problems related to the ear, nose, and throat. Located in Warrenton, VA about 45 minutes west of Washington DC, he also provides inhalant allergy testing/treatment, hearing tests, and dispenses hearing aids. Google+ Christopher Chang, MD Bio

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