The elderly's apparent immunity from swine flu could indicate that the human
population, as a whole, has a preexisting immunity to H1N1. Such
thinking would help explain why H1N1 symptoms have been generally mild,
researchers said Wednesday.
Scientists at the University of
California-Davis said certain elements in the H1N1 strain of influenza
have been found in past seasonal strains of the flu. Proteins in
viruses called epitopes are less likely to change from strain to
strain. When they reviewed the information on swine flu, researchers
found the H1N1 strain contains roughly a dozen such epitopes that
appeared in recent seasonal strains of the flu. Some individuals over
the age of 60 were likely exposed to those strains in their youth,
Researchers also note that, while most
immunity measures focus on anti-bodies, that's not the body's only
defense against viruses. The body also makes cytotoxic T-cells, which
produce antiviral chemicals. It is this cellular protection that could
also be contributing to the more mild symptoms associated with the
disease, according to researchers. The study appears in the journal
Emerging Infectious Diseases. For more, read the article.
Robert W. Carter,
Jr. is a Virginia attorney whose law practice is dedicated to
protecting the rights of the victims of nursing home and assisted
living neglect and abuse in Richmond, Roanoke, Norfolk, Lynchburg,
Danville, Charlottesville, and across Virginia.