Science and Tech


You Could Have The Flu And Not Know It, Study Says

Researchers in England analyzed past data and realized a large portion of people with the flu don't show symptoms.
Posted at 3:08 PM, Mar 17, 2014

Coughing, sneezing, aches and pains — all normal symptoms of the dreaded flu. But did you know you can actually have no symptoms at all?

A new study out of England found that about three-quarters of infected people showed no signs of the seasonal flu or swine flu in recent years — potentially making the spread of the virus all the more likely. (Via U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)

To get the results, researchers looked at data during the winter flu seasons between 2006 and 2011, including the 2009 outbreak of swine flu. 

The results, published in The Lancet, showed about 18 percent of people without a vaccine got the virus but only 23 percent of those people actually developed symptoms. (Via Flickr / Ray Dumas

"And about fewer than one in five people were sick enough to see a doctor or stay home from work. ... Well, that's not really getting the flu, is it?" (Via WHBQ)

Well, it's not like any flu I've ever had ... or at least one I knew I had.

One of the lead researchers makes a little more sense of the results: "Most people don't go to the doctor when they have flu. ... Surveillance based on patients who consult greatly underestimates the number of community cases, which in turn can lead to overestimates of the proportion of cases who end up in hospital or die."

Now, there are still a lot of unanswered questions with this study — one being, if you hardly show signs, how easily can the virus be passed along? Flu incognito — creepy.