Sunday, December 5, 2010

How Elderly Survived From Swine Flu? | 6 Des 2010 | For more than 30 years Stephen Hirst was in constant pain and partially deaf because of excruciating earache.

The mystery of why swine flu killed many victims in the prime of life has been solved.

Normally, the very old and young are most vulnerable to flu.

But scientists believe the elderly were protected because they had come across a similar virus in their youth and mounted an effective immune response.

But the H1N1 strain, which was a descendant of the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918, stopped circulating byl the late 1950s.

People over the age of 50 are more likely to have met a virus similar to swine flu in their youths than those aged between 20-50 and therefore developed a level of immunity to the disease

Therefore those in their 20s to 50s were too young to have encountered that ‘helpful’ virus. Instead their body’s ‘memory’ of other flu bugs triggered antibodies which reacted dangerously with the swine flu, leading to lung damage.

'In a middle-aged population, we saw a lot of people getting very, very ill,' said Dr Fernando Polack of Vanderbilt University, Tennessee.

They found many adult victims of the recent swine flu outbreak had lungs full of a protein called C4d. This usually helps to destroy viruses but researchers believe that when it met the 2009 virus, it helped kill the host instead.

Young children escaped the worst because they were too young to have come across many flus in the past and so their immune systems were less likely to backfire on them, the journal Nature Medicine reports. (Nino Guevara Ruwano)


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