Study says adults catch flu every five years
Although it may seem like it happens a lot more often, adults, on average, actually catch the flu every five years, according to a study by an international team of researchers.
This study, published in the journal PLoS Biology, looked at nine main strains of flu (all type of influenza A virus) that were known to have circulated around the world between 1968 and 2009. The researchers recruited 151 volunteers in China, ages 7 to 81, and checked their blood for antibodies to see if they had been infected with any of the viruses and how often. Based on their findings, they estimated that children got the flu once every other year, but that it happened less frequently as they got older. From the age of 30 on, people got the flu only about two times per decade.
Gathering this sort of lifespan data, which the researchers said hadn't been done before, should help experts better understand who is at higher risk of infection and how far disease spreads through communities.
The researchers suggested that many people still mistake bad colds for the flu. The latter is a more severe illness with aches and pains, in addition to a clogged or runny nose.