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CDC - Swine Flu Immunity Seen In Older People

Posted by Chrissie Cole
Friday, May 22, 2009 11:39 AM EST
Category: Major Medical
Tags: Protecting Your Family, CDC, WHO, H1N1, Public Health, Influenza A, Swine Flu


IMAGE SOURCE: World Health Organization (WHO)

New test results show what scientists have suspected – some people over 60 are likely to posses greater immunity to the H1N1 swine flu, said federal researchers on Thursday.

Producing a vaccine for the novel influenza A (H1N1) virus is expected to take several months, which makes determining whether recent influenza vaccines offer any cross-protection against the new virus very important, says the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

CDC scientists mixed the new virus with blood samples taken in the past from people in the United States and Europe to check for antibodies that would guard against infection. Samples were from healthy people before the new flu surfaced. The results suggest that recent flu vaccines are unlikely to offer a protective antibody response to the H1N1 virus.

“The results among adults seem to suggest a degree of pre-existing immunity to the novel H1N1 strain exists, especially in adults 60 or older,” they wrote in the CDC’s MMWR.

CDC scientists are not willing to say it shows a clear-cut immunity in older people because the samples tested were small.

Dr. Anne Schuchat of the CDC says, older people should continue to take the same precautions as younger people since it is not yet clear how safe older people are from the infection.

With the new virus, about 40 percent of those hospitalized have been in the 18 to 50 age group. For all cases – not just those hospitalized – more than 60 percent have been in people 25 or younger.

H1N1 Virus Update:

As of Thursday, there are 5,765 confirmed and probable cases of the H1N1 virus in 48 states and nine deaths. CDC officials say that not all people who get sick from the virus get tested, and it's possible that more than 100,000 Americans have had the infection.

Worldwide there have been 11,168 reported cases of the H1N1 virus in 42 countries, including 86 deaths, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

World should Prepare for Severe Flu:

World Health Organization Chief Margaret Chan said countries should be prepared for more serious H1N1 flu infections and more deaths from the new virus, reports Reuters.

The highly-contagious strain needs close monitoring in the southern hemisphere, where the winter season is beginning, as it could mix with the seasonal flu and mutate in “unpredictable ways,” she said.

“In cases where the virus is widespread and circulating within the general community, countries must prepare to see more cases of severe and fatal infections,” she added. “At present time, we do not expect a sudden and dramatic jump in severe illnesses and deaths.”

The virus, which is airborne like common seasonal flu, is continuing to pop up in new countries on a daily basis. #

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