“FOR THE COMING on of winter resolves the diseases of summer, and the coming on of summer removes those of winter,” wrote the father of medicine, the Greek physician and philosopher Hippocrates, in 400 B.C. This account is considered the earliest recorded study of the seasonal variability of a disease, namely influenza. Why some conditions are periodic, however, was a mystery that puzzled scientists until the modern era. We still haven’t totally figured it out, but researchers now understand that as the seasons cycle, germs, their hosts, and the environments they inhabit change together in complicated ways that make people more or less prone to catching a disease.

 

 

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