A summary of important health news from the past week.

The 2011 film Contagion is even more relevant in 2020, and not just because of coronavirus

By: Alissa Wilkinson

Remember the 2011 film Contagion? It’s not surprising you don’t. When it came out, the film was lauded for its accurate, scientific depiction of how the world would react to a deadly global viral outbreak. It centers around the life of Mitch Emhoff, played by Matt Damon, and how his family was affected by the outbreak. The film also stars Gwyneth Paltrow, Bryan Cranston, Jude Law, and other common household names in Hollywood. But other than its compelling narrative and its all-star cast, there’s really no reason why it should be still as popular today.  But given the recent coronavirus outbreak, this almost decade old film is suddenly breaking the top 10 on iTunes movie rental charts. Contagion demonstrates a world torn apart by the aftermath of the virus. It depicts the destruction of societal infrastructure and the chaos that rises from public disarray. But more importantly, it emphasizes the dangers of misinformation in this digital era.


Flu is widespread across the US

By: Jen Christensen

According to the CDC, his flu season started on September 29, 2019, and since then, there have been over 20 million cases and 12,000 deaths. While every flu season, one strain – A or B – will dominate, this season, both are widespread. High levels of the flu have been seen in 45 states and Puerto Rico. Influenza A is commonly seen in people aged 25+ while Influenza B is mostly seen in babies, children, and young adults. This season, there have been 78 pediatric flu deaths. Thus, the CDC and physicians have advised the general public to wash their hands regularly, avoid people who cough and sneeze and to consult a physician if they start reporting symptoms. Once an individual has the flu, it is crucial to get a prescription for antiviral medication because it reduces sick time. It is also crucial to stay at home to prevent spreading the virus to others.


Keeping a plant on your desk can reduce workplace stress, study says

By: Kristen Rogers

A study has shown that staring at a plant may help with reducing stress. The researchers in Japan were interested in how plants could potentially help improve work environments. The findings revealed that 27% of employees in the study had a significant decrease in resting heart rate. These “nature breaks” may help with mental health and fatigue in employees. Though the study showed an improvement in many employees, it also found that not everyone could be positively affected by this measure. Overall, staring at plants was linked to a greater sense of mindfulness, and the researchers suggest other measures such as staring out windows and taking short walks.


Loneliness: 5 things you may not know

By: Ashley Hayes

We have all felt the intense feelings that come with being lonely. Research has shown that chronic loneliness can have negative impacts on your health. A study led by Naomi Eisenberger found that the feelings of loneliness triggered activity in some of the same regions of the brain that register physical pain. Another 2012 study of older adults living in Amsterdam found that after adjusting for age, feeling lonely raised the risk of dementia by 64%. However, “scientists are still examining the link between mental and physical health and how loneliness affects our bodies” but the current evidence suggests we all need a friend.

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