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A Year In The Life Of The Flu

Apologies, blogging's been a bit sparse 'round these parts as we try to shove the new issue of the print magazine out the door. In the meantime, the AP highlights a new study describing how, every year, newly mutated strains of influenza crop up in Southeast Asia, travel to Europe and North America, and eventually burn out and die in South America. Here's the map:


Why this route and not others? "Travel and trade, says Russell: There is far less direct air travel between Asia and South America than Asia and North America, for example. By the time the virus made it to South America, the rest of the planet already had been exposed." And by the time Americans start catching the latest version of flu, most people in Asia are already immune to that strain and bracing themselves for the next one.

--Bradford Plumer