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WSU Newsline: Historian provides perspective on this year's flu season
Monday, February 4, 2013 9:00 AM

The scripts are available for printing and for sound bite identification.

Background:
We all know the signs: chills, fever, sore throat, muscle aches, coughing. But while the flu may seem harmlessly similar to the common cold, influenza results in 250,000 to 500,000 deaths every year in epidemics that can spread rapidly around the world. George Dehner, an associate professor in history at Wichita State University and author of the book "Global Flu and You – A History of Influenza," puts this winter's flu season in perspective.

Voice wrap:
Announcer: The flu bug has seemingly bit a lot of people this winter and this flu season is far from over. However, if you compare this year to other years, this winter's influenza outbreak isn't as bad as you might think. George Dehner, an associate professor of history at Wichita State University and author of the book "Global Flu and You – A History of Influenza," explains.

Dehner: "Compared to usual years of influenza, this is kind of very transmissible, but it's not out of the run of normal years of influenza. It's well within the parameters of a normal year of influenza infections."

Announcer: While the flu may seem harmlessly similar to the common cold, influenza results in 250,000 to 500,000 deaths every year in epidemics that can spread rapidly around the world. Dehner says the virus is a remarkable organism. It is very changeable and it's very infectious, and throughout history it has popped up and impacted communities repeatedly in greater or lesser volume. This is Joe Kleinsasser at Wichita State University.

Sound bite #1
Dehner says people don't always correctly identify the flu. The sound bite is 14 seconds and the outcue is "influenza case."

Dehner: "People have a tendency to use flu to describe diseases or illnesses they have that are not true influenza. And so, when you have this false identification of flu, it doesn't always refer to a true influenza case."

Sound bite #2
Dehner says it's hard to predict how serious the flu season will be. The sound bite is 12 seconds and the outcue is "going to be like."

Dehner: "There's no way of knowing prior to the outbreak of influenza how transmissible or how deadly it's going to be, so it makes it very difficult for public health officials to know what the next flu season's going to be like."

Sound bite #3
Dehner explains why he is a proponent of flu shots. The sound bite is 13 seconds and the outcue is "against influenza."

Dehner: "The only protection against an influenza illness is actually the protection of a vaccine. So I believe, and many public health officials believe, that everyone should be vaccinated to protect against influenza."

Sound bite #4
Dehner says influenza vaccines are very safe. The sound bite is 7 seconds and the outcue is "reactions to it."

Dehner: "Influenza vaccines are very safe vaccines and very rarely are there adverse reactions to it."

Sound bite #5
Dehner explains why many people don't get flu shots. The sound bite is 16 seconds and the outcue is "to be concerned about."

Dehner: "I think there are two reasons why people don't get flu shots. One is that there's a resistance among adults to get protective shots and vaccines. And two, there's a widespread belief that influenza illnesses are not particularly dangerous or anything to be concerned about."

Sound bite #6
Dehner says throughout history the flu virus has been very changeable and infectious. The sound bite is 15 seconds and the outcue is "greater or lesser volume."

Dehner: "The virus is a remarkable organism. It is very changeable and it's very infectious, and throughout history it has popped up and impacted in communities repeatedly in greater or lesser volume."

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Contact: George Dehner, (316) 978-7734 or george.dehner@wichita.edu.