Hello. This is my first post in this monthly blog. I learned about it during this year’s A to Z Challenge Blog from a couple of bloggers when they posted their entries last month on April 5.
When I signed up, I noticed quite a few blog names I recognized, some I already follow, so I’m really looking forward to being part of this. The blog is posted on the first Wednesday of the month. Each month, there’s a question to answer. This month, that question is: What is the weirdest/coolest thing you ever had to research for your story?
The first thing I have to say is that if anyone from the government ever decided to look at my search history, they would be hauling me away in cuffs in no time. While I write many subgenres of romance, I tend to prefer romantic suspense. I’ve researched arson, hypothermia, poison, guns, homemade bombs, cults, terrorism, you name it, but probably the weirdest research I did involved the last book of The Harvester Saga, The White Iris when I researched viruses, specifically the flu virus, H1N1, the one we call the Swine flu, the one that is best remembered as the Spanish flu that killed 3 to 5 percent of the world’s population in 1918. The weirdest thing I learned was that it wasn’t the sick who succumbed to the disease, but the healthy whose bodies overproduced antibodies–cytokines and white blood cells that basically went to war with one another. The information below is taken from Wikipedia, not because it’s the best source, but it’s the least technical and easier to understand.
It is believed that cytokine storms were responsible for the disproportionate number of healthy young adult deaths during the 1918 influenza pandemic, which killed 50 to 100 million people. In this case, a healthy immune system may have been a liability rather than an asset. Preliminary research results from Hong Kong also indicated this as the probable reason for many deaths during the SARS epidemic in 2003. Human deaths from the bird flu H5N1 usually involve cytokine storms as well. Reports of high mortality among healthy young adults in the 2009 swine flu outbreak has led to speculation that cytokine storms could be responsible for these deaths, since the Swine Flu results from the same influenza strain as the 1918 pandemic. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has indicated that symptoms reported from this strain are similar to those of normal seasonal flu, with the CDC stating that there is “insufficient information to date about clinical complications of this variant of swine-origin influenza A (H1N1) virus infection.” Cytokine storm has also been implicated in hantavirus pulmonary syndrome.
I’ve learned many intriguing facts in my research, but this has stayed with me. The first thing I did after my research was go and get my flu shot! Not that I’m super healthy or anything, but why take the chance? From now on, I won’t miss a year.
Please take the time to visit at least 12 of the other Insecure Authors blogging today.