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The Quick 10: 10 Flu Facts

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It's flu shot time around here, so I guess I have the flu on the brain. I thought if I did, maybe you guys do too, so I did a little research today.
WebMD and had a particularly interesting article on flu myths. I summarized a couple of their myths, but you can get the full article here. Disclaimer, though: If you end up surfing around WebMD and diagnosing yourself with all kinds of horrible ailments (which I have a tendency to do), I take no responsibility.

flu

1. The flu vaccine can't give you the flu. The vaccines only contain a dead piece of the flu virus, and a dead virus can't infect you. There is a nasal vaccine that contains a live virus, but that particular vaccine is designed to seek and destroy the part of the virus that actually makes you sick.

2. You can treat the flu. Within 48 hours of contracting it, a doctor can prescribe antiviral medicine that will help. It's not going to get rid of it entirely, but it will lessen the time that you're curled up on the couch, watching bad daytime T.V. and wanting to die.

3. The Spanish Flu is the most well-known pandemic of the flu "“ it took out anywhere from 40 to 100 million people from 1918 to 1920. It was so severe that it registered a Level 5 on the Pandemic Severity Scale, which is the highest level that exists. The mortality rate was incredibly high "“ some estimates say up to 20 percent. People that got it and survived, though, include FDR, Walt Disney, Mary Pickford, General Pershing and Woodrow Wilson.

sykes4. Recently (September), Sir Mark Sykes of England was dug up so scientists could study the Spanish Flu virus, hoping to understand more about the current bird flu. Even though Sykes has been six feet under for the past 90 years, the fact that he was buried in a lead coffin makes scientists hope that the virus has been preserved.

5. In the U.S. alone, the flu season results in 36,000-ish deaths and 200,000 hospitalizations. As if those facts weren't painful enough, the flu costs Americans a collective $10 billion annually.

6. While we have the Freshman 15, the Brits have Freshers Flu. Up to 90 percent of people during their first few weeks at college end up getting sick, and whether it's actually the flu or not (it's usually just a cold), the nickname has a nice ring to it.

7. People who say they have the "stomach flu" probably don't really have the flu. It's just a nickname that came about because you feel crappy in similar ways to the real flu. But, WebMD says, if you don't have fever or body ache, you likely don't have the flu "“ just a gastrointestinal virus of some sort.

8. This one is Snopes-verified "“ Donald Rumsfeld owns stock in Gilead Sciences, the company that makes Tamiflu. Tamiflu, for those that don't know (I didn't), is a drug that can reduce the severity of the flu. It's one of those drugs I mentioned up in #2. Some people think this is a big conspiracy theory "“ that the avian flu and other strains have become a huge deal in recent years because the government, including Rumsfeld, wanted to make a tidy profit from his stocks. Seems a little farfetched to me, but"¦ who knows?

9. The flu has been around for a loooong time "“ Hippocrates wrote of an illness with a description closely matching today's modern flu symptoms.

10. The most recent flu pandemic was the Hong Kong Flu in 1968-69, which registered as a Level 2 on the Pandemic Severity Index. About 500,000 people were infected in Hong Kong, about 50 million were infect in the U.S. Around 34,000 of those 50 million died.

P.S.: Ryan reminded me in the comments that I said I was going to work Clark Gable into my Q10 all week. So, here are your farfetched Gable-related bits of flu trivia:

  • Gable was probably less likely than most to catch the flu because he had a "fetish for cleanliness", according to his biographer, David Bret.
  • One evening, he told his wife, Kay, he thought he was coming down with the flu because he was feeling poorly. He went to bed early. The next day, he was changing the tire on his Jeep when he he started having severe chest pains - the flu-like symptoms were actually a sign of his oncoming heart attack.
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    6 Radiant Facts About Irène Joliot-Curie
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    Hulton Archive/Getty Images

    Though her accomplishments are often overshadowed by those of her parents, the elder daughter of Marie and Pierre Curie was a brilliant researcher in her own right.

    1. SHE WAS BORN TO, AND FOR, GREATNESS.

    A black and white photo of Irene and Marie Curie in the laboratory in 1925.
    Irène and Marie in the laboratory, 1925.
    Wellcome Images, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 4.0

    Irène’s birth in Paris in 1897 launched what would become a world-changing scientific dynasty. A restless Marie rejoined her loving husband in the laboratory shortly after the baby’s arrival. Over the next 10 years, the Curies discovered radium and polonium, founded the science of radioactivity, welcomed a second daughter, Eve, and won a Nobel Prize in Physics. The Curies expected their daughters to excel in their education and their work. And excel they did; by 1925, Irène had a doctorate in chemistry and was working in her mother’s laboratory.

    2. HER PARENTS' MARRIAGE WAS A MODEL FOR HER OWN.

    Like her mother, Irène fell in love in the lab—both with her work and with another scientist. Frédéric Joliot joined the Curie team as an assistant. He and Irène quickly bonded over shared interests in sports, the arts, and human rights. The two began collaborating on research and soon married, equitably combining their names and signing their work Irène and Frédéric Joliot-Curie.

    3. SHE AND HER HUSBAND WERE AN UNSTOPPABLE PAIR.

    Black and white photo of Irène and Fréderic Joliot-Curie working side by side in their laboratory.
    Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

    Their passion for exploration drove them ever onward into exciting new territory. A decade of experimentation yielded advances in several disciplines. They learned how the thyroid gland absorbs radioiodine and how the body metabolizes radioactive phosphates. They found ways to coax radioactive isotopes from ordinarily non-radioactive materials—a discovery that would eventually enable both nuclear power and atomic weaponry, and one that earned them the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1935.

    4. THEY FOUGHT FOR JUSTICE AND PEACE.

    The humanist principles that initially drew Irène and Frédéric together only deepened as they grew older. Both were proud members of the Socialist Party and the Comité de Vigilance des Intellectuels Antifascistes (Vigilance Committee of Anti-Fascist Intellectuals). They took great pains to keep atomic research out of Nazi hands, sealing and hiding their research as Germany occupied their country, Irène also served as undersecretary of state for scientific research of the Popular Front government.

    5. SHE WAS NOT CONTENT WITH THE STATUS QUO.

    Irène eventually scaled back her time in the lab to raise her children Hélène and Pierre. But she never slowed down, nor did she stop fighting for equality and freedom for all. Especially active in women’s rights groups, she became a member of the Comité National de l'Union des Femmes Françaises and the World Peace Council.

    6. SHE WORKED HERSELF TO DEATH.

    Irène’s extraordinary life was a mirror of her mother’s. Tragically, her death was, too. Years of watching radiation poisoning and cancer taking their toll on Marie never dissuaded Irène from her work. In 1956, dying of leukemia, she entered the Curie Hospital, where she followed her mother’s luminous footsteps into the great beyond.

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    You Can Now Order Food Through Facebook
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    After a bit of controversy over its way of aggregating news feeds and some questionable content censoring policies, it’s nice to have Facebook roll out a feature everyone can agree on: allowing you to order food without leaving the social media site.

    According to a press release, Facebook says that the company decided to begin offering food delivery options after realizing that many of its users come to the social media hub to rate and discuss local eateries. Rather than hop from Facebook to the restaurant or a delivery service, you’ll be able to stay within the app and select from a menu of food choices. Just click “Order Food” from the Explore menu on a desktop interface or under the “More” option on Android or iOS devices. There, you’ll be presented with options that will accept takeout or delivery orders, as well as businesses participating with services like Delivery.com or EatStreet.

    If you need to sign up and create an account with Delivery.com or Jimmy John’s, for example, you can do that without leaving Facebook. The feature is expected to be available nationally, effective immediately.

    [h/t Forbes]

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