Oklahoma health and fitness briefs, Feb. 11

Health and fitness briefs for Feb. 11.
Published: February 11, 2014

Health and Fitness

Try this: Happiness

Happiness is deceptively simple. It's about being satisfied with life and experiencing more positive emotions than negative ones. Research into happiness has determined we are social creatures and need other people to be well and thrive. Belonging to a group or community gives us a sense of identity. It helps us understand who we are and feel part of something larger than ourselves. Research also found that people with strong social connections have fewer stress-related health problems, lower risk of mental illness and faster recovery from trauma or illness. Friends and family can support and encourage us in healthy lifestyle habits. Research has also determined that happiness may be contagious. Try connecting with someone today. It will make you happy!

Source: Molly Ross, executive director, Integris James L. Hall Jr. Center for Mind, Body and Spirit

Flu season continues

Is it ever not flu season?

“It seems like it drags on forever,” said Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation scientist Hal Scofield, M.D. “And if you think about the way the influenza virus moves around the globe, the season never really ends at all.”

In the U.S., flu season lasts about 12 weeks, which means there's about a month left, he said. Since the end of September, nearly 1,000 people in Oklahoma have been hospitalized because of the flu, and 33 of those have died, according to the state Department of Health.

The best defense against the influenza virus is the vaccine, and it isn't too late to get one, Scofield said. If all the flu talk has you dizzy, he offers this primer to bring you up to speed.

Q: Do I need to get rid of my birds to avoid bird flu?

A: Nope. Avian influenza viruses occur in wild aquatic birds around the world and can sometimes infect other bird and animal species. But unless your pet bird has been hanging out with ducks or chickens, it's not catching the avian flu. Even if it did, avian influenza viruses do not normally infect humans. But, there are sporadic cases of human infection from bird flu. That's because bird flu (and swine flu) go through a process called “reassortment” or “antigenic drift.” Basically, if two or more viruses infect the same cell, they can mix and match DNA and mutate. These mutations could render the virus harmless or make it more deadly.

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