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Study: Classroom Flu Transmission May Fall With Higher Humidity

Simply raising humidity levels in school classrooms may be an effective, nonpharmaceutical way of preventing flu transmission among schoolchildren, according to a study conducted by Mayo Clinic. The researchers compared samples from 650 rooms, 320 of them with added humidity, and found fewer samples positive for influenza A in the humidified rooms. They also found fewer fomites (infectious particles on surfaces and in total air, according to the Center for Infectious Disease and Research Policy (CIDRAP). The relative humidity increase was 42 to 45 percent.

This is indeed intriguing information, especially since the upcoming flu season is on its way. With the flu vaccine being infamous for its failures — less than 50 percent effective more than half the time for the past 14 years, and last year an abysmal 36 percent at best — it’s always refreshing to learn there are other, better nonpharmaceutical ways to prevent this respiratory infection.

We already know that several studies show that optimizing your vitamin D level is far more potent a preventive strategy than getting a seasonal flu vaccine. The plain facts are that people with significant vitamin D levels may reduce their risk of respiratory infections such as influenza by 50 percent. People with higher vitamin D levels may also benefit from additional vitamin D, reducing their risk of flu by 10 percent, which equals the effectiveness of the seasonal flu vaccine, including this year’s vaccine.

And, when you consider that the number needed to treat (NNT) for the influenza vaccine is 71, while the NNT for vitamin D supplementation is only 33, it only makes sense that just maximizing your vitamin D levels is much more protective than getting a flu vaccine. (NNT is how many people need to be treated to prevent a single case of influenza.) Not only that, the flu shot may actually make you MORE susceptible to influenza viral subtypes not in the vaccine, as well as to other infections.

Add the fact that high-dose vitamin C has also been proven to help prevent and treat influenza, and there’s only one thing left to do, if the Mayo Clinic is to be believed: Buy a humidifier, get your D and C and stay well all winter.