Friday, November 18, 2011

Author Beware: Seasonal Illnesses

One thing to keep in mind when you're writing a novel is that some illnesses are seasonal. So if your book covers an obvious time of year-- say the summer. It may behoove you as an author to be aware of the illnesses that are and aren't around.

Croup: AKA laryngitis. Used to be seasonal but we typically see it year round. No time restrictions needed here.
RSV: The leading viral cause of bronchiolitis typically starts in late fall, early winter and lasts approximately 20 weeks. This is what healthcare professionals happily (maybe?) term "respiratory season". It means gowns, gloves and masks need to be worn for patient's that present with cough and fever. Another fact to keep in mind.

Influenza: Influenza is truly a respiratory illness and not a gastrointestional (GI) one. You know an author has thoroughly checked their facts when they have a summer illness with vomiting and diarrhea and don't call it influenza. This is why flu shots are given Sept-Nov... to help prevent the transmission of this illness.

Keep seasonal illnesses in mind when you're writing a novel that occurs during a specific time of year. It may behoove you to ask if that contagious illness you're killing off your characters with would actually occur during your time frame.

Have you used a contagion, known or "created" in your novel?


  1. Jordyn, Not only did I use a contagion in my latest novel, Lethal Remedy, I invented a bacterium resistant to all the currently known antibiotics. I named it Staphylococcus luciferus, the Devil's staph. Then I invented an experimental antibiotic that was supposedly 100% effective, and with no side effects. But, of course, that was too good to be true--otherwise, it would be a very short novel.
    Good advice. Illness, especially a contagious one, is always a good plot device. Thanks for the reminder.

  2. This is a GREAT reminder! Thank you, Jordyn!

  3. Richard... very interesting and realistic and I love your name for the bacteria!! I do worry about this in medicine, resistant strains of bacteria. I don't think the general public knows how concerned we in medicine are about this.

    Mart-- always good to see you stop by!