Experts are worried the seasonal flu is primed for a bounce-back year after reported cases reached an all time low during the pandemic. CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky says while covid-prevention measures like masking, social distancing and large portions of the country shutting down limited the number of influenza cases, it left many Americans more vulnerable this year due to lack of immunity.
The CDC says there were around 2,000 reported influenza cases last flu season (2020-2021), compared to an estimated 35 million cases in 2019-2020. With much of the country reopening, the upcoming holiday travel season, and the population's lack of immunity against influenza, the makings for a tough flu season are already in place.
Regular hand washing, vaccines, and avoiding those who are sick remain at the top of the CDC's list of preventative measures against the flu and other viruses, but a new focus on the importance of indoor air quality has shown how proper home ventilation can help stop the spread before it even starts.
A balanced home ventilation system like a whole house fan and attic vents relies on a healthy dose of fresh air to deliver the most benefits. Whole-house fans can help protect people indoors from airborne transmission by producing a substantial increases in ventilation with outdoor air throughout a house, according to the EPA. Whole house fans remove viruses, bacteria, allergens and other indoor air pollutants from the home through the attic in as little as 2-3 minutes, replacing it with fresh, clean outside air.
Subpar ventilation systems or those relying on recirculated air simply don't deliver the same air exchange benefits as fresh air intake systems, according to The World Health Organization. "Well-designed natural ventilation systems can often be more effective than air conditioning in promoting effective infection control by increasing the number of air exchanges," the WHO says.
What the research shows
Effective ventilation helps keep bacteria, viruses and other pollutants out of the indoor air (American Lung Association)
Preparing for what could be one of the worst flu seasons in recent years should be top of mind, especially when planning a trip or hosting guests over the holidays. Keep washing those hands and avoiding others who are sick, and make sure you're breathing the freshest, cleanest and healthiest air as possible with a proper home ventilation system to prevent the spread.
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