The United States is seeing its fair share of illness this winter.
The country is in the midst of a particularly bad flu season, the worst outbreak of whooping cough since 1955, and an emerging outbreak of norovirus (a stomach bug that causes diarrhea and vomiting.)
Despite the seeming inundation of illness, experts say there is no connection between the three outbreaks, or any reason why all three would be happening now.
"As far as we know, they're completely coincidental and separate," said Dr. Andy Pavia, chief of the University of Utah's Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, and chair of the influenza advisory committee at the Infectious Disease Society of America.
It's not at all surprising we're seeing flu cases now, since the virus occurs around this time every year. But this season is looking like a serious one, with more people visiting the doctor for flu-like illness so far this season than at any point last season. The early start to this year's season, as well as the particular strains in circulation, may be reasons why more people are sick this year. [See What You Can Do About the Raging Flu.]
Cases of whooping cough, or pertussis, have been on the rise in recent years, and in 2012, the number of illnesses soared to more than 41,000 — more than any other year since 1955. The increase could be related to a change in the type of whooping cough vaccine used. In 1997, doctors switched to a more purified version of the vaccine. While this vaccine is thought to be safer than the one previously used, it may not protect against the disease for as long a period. Dr. Paul Offit, chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, said because so many cases of whooping cough were seen in 2012, higher numbers of people have presumably developed immunity to the virus after being infected. Because of this, he would guess that the number of cases will start to go down this year.
The only connection between flu and whooping cough is that they are both vaccine-preventable diseases, Pavia said. Thus, as more people get vaccinated against them, and more perfect vaccines are developed, rates of these illnesses are expected to go down, he said.
Norovirus is unpredictable, and some years see worse outbreaks than others, Offit said. What's unusual about this year's outbreak is that it seems to be widespread, occurring in many communities rather than being confined to a particular area, Pavia said.
Pass it on: There is no connection between this year's outbreaks of flu, whooping cough and norovirus.
Copyright 2013 MyHealthNewsDaily, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
While several crucial matchups are scheduled for this weekend, including the game between the New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Rams in Los Angeles, the weather should not interfere with many of the games.
A change in the weather pattern will result in downpours returning to Sri Lanka and parts of southern India next week.
There is good news for people with travel or outdoor plans the next couple of weeks as much of the nation will be free from the effects of major storms.
The final week of the regular college football season is here with plenty of rivalry bragging rights and playoff bids at stake.
A U.S. Navy transport plane crashed in the Philippine Sea on Wednesday on its way to the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier.
As millions of Thanksgiving travelers head home this weekend, a majority of the United States will be free of weather-related disruptions with only a few trouble spots.
A plume of ash and smoke rose from Mount Agung on Tuesday just weeks after the Indonesian island of Bali was evacuated due to fears of an eruption.
Populations in the United States and around the globe are relocating due to climate impacts. Scientists project that millions will be forced to migrate due to sea level rise by 2100.