Behind the Headlines

Your guide to the science that makes the news

Swine flu jab narcolepsy risk very small

Wednesday Feb 27 2013

There have been reports in the media today that the Pandemrix vaccine, used during the swine flu epidemic of 2009-10, increases children’s risk of developing narcolepsy...

Not touching face may help cut flu risk

Monday Dec 3 2012

'Want to avoid flu? Stop touching your face!' is the advice in the Daily Mail. It is based on a recent study in Brazil which found that on average, people touched their face 3.6 times per hour, which could make frequent hand washing less effective…

'Dirty Brits are world's worst flu spreaders'

Friday Oct 5 2012

'Britons 'most unhygenic nation' in the face of major flu outbreak' the Daily Telegraph tell us. They report on an international survey that found that British people were least likely to adopt basic hygiene practices to avoid spreading flu…

Flu can spread before symptoms show

Friday Aug 31 2012

“Flu can be spread long before symptoms appear,” according to the Daily Mail. The news reports followed a study aiming to investigate whether someone could pass the flu virus onto others before they themselves have developed...

Bird flu virus 'may spread in people'

Friday Jun 22 2012

“Bird flu 'could mutate to cause deadly human pandemic',” BBC News has reported. The BBC says that Dutch researchers have identified mutations that could allow the H5N1 virus to spread rapidly in humans. The tone of the headlines is somewhat alarmist...

Zinc 'can ease cold symptoms'

Tuesday May 8 2012

Scientists have found that taking zinc tablets “may shorten the duration of a cold”, The Independent reported today. For many years, laboratory research has suggested that zinc can stop cold viruses from multiplying...

Mutation 'may worsen flu symptoms'

Monday Mar 26 2012

Scientists have discovered a “gene flaw linked to serious flu risk”, according to BBC News. The broadcaster says the mutation controls a malformed protein, which makes cells more susceptible to viral infection...

Unique flu virus found in bats

Thursday Mar 1 2012

“We've had bird flu and swine flu - now scientists have found BAT FLU,” says the Daily Mail. The newspaper reports that the strain “could pose a risk to humans if it mingled with more common forms of flu”. The Mail has got in a flap...

'Super-flu' claims unfounded

Thursday Nov 3 2011

A new strain of killer flu “could spread to Britain within 24 hours”, the Daily Express has today claimed. The Daily Mail also covered the story, reporting that research had found that people were infected with both seasonal flu and swine flu...

Pregnant women advised to get flu jab

Thursday Oct 20 2011

“Pregnant women were urged to get their annual flu jab yesterday as research showed they have a five times greater risk of a stillbirth if they are admitted to hospital with swine flu,” reported The Independent.

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