Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Ever heard of this flu ?

  1. Sep 14, 2011 #1
    Ever heard of this "flu"?

    I was talking to a woman tonight at a coffee shop who said she had been the victim of a strange "flu" that had gone through the Portland area a few years back. The only symptom was a pain in the arm that she described as like a hot knife being stabbed into the arm and twisted, a pain so bad that people were asking doctors to cut their arms off.

    I wondered if this alleged epidemic ever actually happened (she wasn't someone I'd consider reliable) and if it did, why it would be ascribed to a flu. There appeared to be no other symptom except a mild fever.

    So, my questions are:

    1.)What has to be happening to constitute a "flu"?

    and

    2.) Has anyone heard of this alleged arm thing in Portland?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 14, 2011 #2

    Ryan_m_b

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Re: Ever heard of this "flu"?

    Muscular pain is a symptom of flu but I'd be surprised if all it did was cause arm pain without the usual fevers, breathing problems etc. I can't find any mention of this Portland arm pain plague either.
     
  4. Sep 14, 2011 #3
    Re: Ever heard of this "flu"?

    It might be a genetic things because more times than not, when I get the Flu the first 1/3 of it my skin is very tender, almost painful to rub.
     
  5. Sep 14, 2011 #4

    Ryan_m_b

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Re: Ever heard of this "flu"?

    I'm not sure what you mean here Jacob? Flu is the colloquial term for an infection by any one of the Influenza viruses.
     
  6. Sep 14, 2011 #5
    Re: Ever heard of this "flu"?

    This might require a complex answer but, as simply as you can, what distinguishes an "influenza" virus from others? Airborne contagiousness? Or?
     
  7. Sep 14, 2011 #6
    Re: Ever heard of this "flu"?

    Same here. However, she claimed she had this excruciating arm pain in the absence of any other common flu symptom with the exception of a mild fever.
     
  8. Sep 14, 2011 #7

    Ryan_m_b

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Re: Ever heard of this "flu"?

    Basically they are a http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biological_family" [Broken] of viruses. They're quite similar though, I'd be surprised to hear of one that only causes pain in the arm.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  9. Sep 14, 2011 #8

    Evo

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Re: Ever heard of this "flu"?

    It wasn't the flu then.

    Why would she think a pain in her arm is the flu?
     
  10. Sep 14, 2011 #9
    Re: Ever heard of this "flu"?

    check out his degree
     
  11. Sep 14, 2011 #10
    Re: Ever heard of this "flu"?

    OK. Thanks.
    That's what I wondered. She said a teacher she talked to had told her many kids in her (the teacher's) school had come down with the same symptom, and that it had been determined to be a flu.

    If it actually happened it sounds more like some sort of psychogenic, mass hysteria type thing to me.

    In her case she said the doc ruled out heart attack first, then had nothing else to offer except that she might have strained the muscle. She didn't get the "flu" notion from a doctor, just from the teacher.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  12. Sep 14, 2011 #11

    bobze

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Re: Ever heard of this "flu"?

    People call lots of things "flu", but really they just mean viral illness. Like you hear people say "stomach flu", but there isn't an influenza virus that infects gastrointestinal epi.

    You asked what "distinguishes" influenza. Aside from the common genetics (like back in the day, before sequencing was done) mode of infection, type of replication and type of material found in the viron.

    In the case of influenza, they infect columnar epithelial cells in the respiratory tract. They bud from the apical surface (something that made the 1918 flu so deadly was its deviation from this, but that is another story for another night) of those cells. The genetic material is "negative-sense" RNA, which means it complimentary to mRNA. It must first be converted by viral polymerase to a readable strand before translation of viral proteins.
     
  13. Sep 14, 2011 #12

    DaveC426913

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Re: Ever heard of this "flu"?

    Perhaps we should separate the exploration of the sloppy use of the term 'flu' from the issue at-hand, which seems to be more about: is it possible that some viral intruder could cause just a specific and targeted symptom?
     
  14. Sep 14, 2011 #13

    Evo

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Re: Ever heard of this "flu"?

    With onset of a virus, a lot of people experience painful skin, as Greg described above. I can usually tell when a viral infection is taking hold because my skin on parts of my body hurts so bad, it hurts to be touched, even by clothing. I had read an article that discussed this years ago, but with all of the junk on the internet, I can't find a reference to this. Anything on what causes this?
     
  15. Sep 14, 2011 #14

    DaveC426913

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Re: Ever heard of this "flu"?

    I was going to say the term for this is paresthesia, but a quick ref check suggests that that term more properly applies to "pins & needles". Go figure.
     
  16. Sep 14, 2011 #15
    Re: Ever heard of this "flu"?

    Thanks. Yes, I would suspect the teacher used the term "flu" in the colloquial sense of a thing everyone seems to be catching, but the woman took it literally, and reported it as an actual form of influenza.
    I'd be happy to have it authentically explained as a bacterial infection, or even a kind of poisoning.

    The same woman told me she had an allergic reaction to vicoden. That sounded completely bogus till I googled and found that some percentage of people experience nausea as a side effect of vicoden and often erroneously conclude they are allergic to it.
     
  17. Sep 16, 2011 #16

    bobze

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Re: Ever heard of this "flu"?

    Hey Evo, yes you are NOT crazy! This has a perfectly natural biological explanation :)

    It turns out that most "symptoms of sickness" or at least ones we associate with being sick (whether its flu, viral, bacterial etc) are actually caused by our own body as a response to being infected.

    This class of chemical warfare is called http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cytokine" [Broken]. Cytokines do all sorts of things for us during infection--Both good and bad. They act as proliferative factors for leukocytes, they raise our temperature, they induce activation of leukocytes, they signal to the body which "type" of immune response is best (ie; cell mediated vs antibody mediated), they recruit leukocytes to the tissue, etc.

    Unfortunately they do things which also make us feel "yucky", like mediate acute inflammatory response, cause the "wrong type" of immune reaction to occur, nausea, hyperalgesia (increased pain sensitivity) and skin sensitivity, etc. This can actually get so carried away in the case of some infections we have what is clinically called a "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cytokine_storm" [Broken]"--Which results in a fatal immune reaction.

    Hope that helps :P
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook




Similar Discussions: Ever heard of this flu ?
  1. Avian Flu Pandemic (Replies: 2)

  2. The Flu Virus (Replies: 12)

  3. Flu VS Catch a cold (Replies: 2)

Loading...