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Your Chances of Getting the Flu Change Based on Whether You Live in a Big City or Small Town

Tehrene Firman

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Photo: Getty Images/Living D3sign
If you ever wonder how you always wind up with the flu when your long-distance besties never seem to get sick, there's a reason for that. According to new research, it's not being unlucky: Where you live plays a bigger role in your tendency to get the flu—and if you're in a small town, you better schedule in your yearly shot ASAP.

In a study published in the journal Science, researchers looked at the doctor visits due to flu-like sicknesses from 2002 to 2008 in more than 600 cities in the U.S. and found smaller cities with fewer residents had more intense epidemics than larger, densely-populated areas.

In the big cities, flu season was more drawn out over the course of the winter, while in smaller areas, there was a higher number of cases all at once that lasted a shorter period of time. "We're not saying that any one city is more dangerous than another. That said, we did find that in small towns the influence of cases appears to occur in a smaller period of time," said lead author and infections disease ecologist Benjamin Dalziel at a press conference, according to Gizmodo. "That more intensely-focused pattern can affect the capacity of a healthcare system."

"We're not saying that any one city is more dangerous than another. That said, we did find that in small towns the influence of cases appear to occur in a smaller period of time." —Benjamin Dalziel, infections disease ecologist

No matter if you're in a big city or small town, there are plenty of things you can do to reduce your chances of coming down with the flu this year. Start adding more immune system-boosting zinc into your diet, up your water intake, or, you know, you could always move to a sunnier state, which has shown to have lower incidences of the illness. (Dallas, here you come!)

Can you still work out when you have the flu? Here's what you should know. Or, find out why the flu shot isn't totally fail-safe—but still totally worth getting.

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