As the heat and humidity hit their peak, the heat-loving bugs in the tropics will make their move, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Researchers from the University of New South Wales and the University at Adelaide in Australia looked at the effects of the season on influenza and heat tolerance in people and mice.
The study found that mice exposed to the heat were more susceptible to the flu than those exposed to cool weather conditions.
The heat is the main killer of the H5N1 flu, which kills nearly 2,000 people each year and has killed thousands more in other countries.
Researchers say this is the first evidence of the heat’s effect on the immune system.
Heat-tolerance is the ability of the body to fight off the harmful effects of heat stress, such as heat stroke, while at the same time not causing harm to the body’s organs and tissues.
A heat stress test has shown that mice treated with a heat stress serum developed less heat-induced inflammation and inflammation-related damage than those who received a saline treatment.
The team says this indicates that heat tolerance is an important factor in the progression of the influenza pandemic.
“We’ve found that people exposed to heat have less inflammation, more protection against heat-related diseases, and less inflammation-associated disease risk than their counterparts who did not experience heat stress,” lead researcher Dr Peter Hallett said in a statement.
“While heat stress has been linked to inflammation and autoimmune disorders, we’re now learning that heat stress also plays a role in influenza-related illness and death.”
The researchers are now working on a study to test whether the same type of immune response is associated with heat stress in humans.