The flu: It's a popular topic of conversation lately, as most people probably know someone who has gotten sick this winter.
But for Wichita State associate professor George Dehner, the flu is a year-round focus. Dehner, who teaches world and environmental history, recently wrote two books about the flu.
"Influenza: A Century of Science and Public Health Response," which Dehner said is aimed at the academic market, and "Global Flu and You: A History of Influenza," a more general book on the subject.
"They're written for different audiences, but there's a lot of overlap," Dehner said.
Dehner received his Ph.D. from Northeastern University and came to Wichita State in 2004 on a visiting professorship. The next year, he changed directions and started on the tenure track.
His interest in influenza research, though, started more than a dozen years ago when reading about the Spanish Flu pandemic of the early 20th century.
"That set me off on my research path, and I've been plugging away ever since," he said.
Separating fact from fiction
Dehner's focus in both of his books is on the history of the flu and how the public and health officials have responded. He also aims to expose the facts and fiction surrounding the illness.
As for what most of the country is experiencing this season, Dehner is quick to point out that it is not a pandemic, and that most of what people call the flu is in fact something else entirely.
Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness that comes on suddenly, can last a week or more and can include symptoms such as fatigue, fever, cough, runny nose and sore throat.