The Center for Disease Control today issued a report confirming that the latest outbreak of a new strain of influenza is the most extreme and widespread in many years.

So far, hundreds of thousands of Americans have been infected by the mutant strain H0N0, nicknamed the “happy flu” or the “beauty flu,” whose primary symptoms range from a vague sense of well-being to full-on “fluphoria,” accompanied by a sudden onset of improved skin circulation, thickening and increased glossiness of hair, greater stomach muscle definition, and an uptick in libido.

“I came home and thought my wife was stoned out of her mind,” said Sanford Berkowicz, an accountant in Greenwich, Conn., whose spouse had greeted him at the door wearing little more than a mane of newly-curly hair and a suggestive smile, “but it turned out it was just the flu.”

It’s believed that the virulent new virus, which is highly communicable via airborne droplets of saliva or sweat, or even a light touch, invades the pituitary and hippocampus areas of the brain, stimulating the production of serotonin and endorphins. Nerves in the facial muscles are also affected, resulting in often pleasurable distensions of the lip area that have come to be known as the “flu smile.”

Some patients report increased strength and endurance, though many physicians believe this may be a merely psychosomatic side-effect of the sudden onset of ravishing good looks that is the hallmark of the infection. “It doesn’t actually make you stronger,” said Mark Bloveldt, head of the CDC’s Viral Epidemiology Division. “You just feel that way. Which is fine, but don’t get carried away and think you can suddenly go out and run a marathon.” Indeed, vastly increased participation in marathons has been noted in many sections of the country, and economists estimated that the new flu will add several hundred million dollars to the economy in the form of increased productivity.

The spread of the “enease” has been most rapid in urban areas, where “flu parties” have become popular among millennials seeking to swap bodily fluids in the hope of contracting the virus. “I never got my flu shot, and boy am I glad,” crowed Amber Defilipo, a self-driving car programmer for Google in Pittsburgh. “My community-minded friends were all over me for my selfishness in failing to support herd immunity, but who’s having the last laugh now?”

This sort of attitude has caused the CDC to issue repeated warnings that not all influenza viruses have the salubrious effects of the H0N0 strain, that some cases can be fatal, and that getting the flu shot remains the best way to insure a healthy, if less attractive, personal biome. “This whole thing has set immunology back ten years,” complained Bloveldt. “It’s enabled every flu-denying whack-job who never got vaccinated because they couldn’t be bothered, or claimed the shot made them sick, or that they might be allergic to eggs. Now they believe in the flu, but it’s the wrong flu!”

The spread of the enease has placed a strain on many communities. Hair salons and gyms have had to extend their hours, and a Bikram Yoga parlor in Portland, OR, was overwhelmed with new clients. “I never saw so many beautiful people sweating in one place,” said pranayama instructor Jonathan Grasp of the horde of toned “happy flu” victims crowding his studio.

Resentment among victims of “real” flu is running high. “I was every bit as much of a slack-ass rationalizer as they were,” said Susan Putzfimmel of Brooklyn, NY, wiping her raw, red nose as she sucked on a zinc lozenge. “I never got the shot either, and I had just as many excuses for it as any of them! I even used the one about having an egg allergy! So why do they get to parade around looking like Gal Godot and I’m sitting here in my apartment binge-watching ‘Mrs. Maisel’ and waiting for the Tamiflu to kick in? That stuff’s expensive!”

Indeed, doctors believe that there’s a remote possibility that some people could contract “happy flu” and the “real” flu at the same time, resulting in what one researcher called a “very attractive, highly energized sick person” or, more succinctly, a “hot mess.” “It’s hard to know which virus would win out,” he said, “but I’m betting on the happy flu.”


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