ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Air Pollution May Raise Blood Pressure
Asthmatics Who Quit Smoking May Reverse Lung Damage
New Spray Could Benefit Cystic Fibrosis Patients
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
The Zen Way to Pain Relief
Many Cancer Patients Turn to Complementary Medicine
Indigo Ointment Benefits Psoriasis Patients
ANIMAL CARE
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Safe Toys for Dogs
Beware of Dog Bites
BONES & JOINTS
Studies Struggle to Gauge Glucosamine's Worth
Barefoot Lifestyle Has Its Dangers
Health Tip: Back Pain in Children
CANCER
Drinking Green Tea May Slow Prostate Cancer
Study Cites Gains in Gall Bladder Cancer Treatment
Want to Stop Cancer? You Can, Experts Say
CAREGIVING
Timing May Matter in Organ Donation Decisions
Exercise During Pregnancy May Help Baby
Coordination Has Led to Quicker Heart Treatment
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Years of Exposure to Traffic Pollution Raises Blood Pressure
Tai Chi and Qigong Offer Many Health Benefits: Review
Bad Marriages Harder on Women's Health
COSMETIC
Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
What to Do If You Have Unsightly Veins
Contact Lenses Boost Kids' Self-Image
DENTAL, ORAL
Scientists Find Gene for Tooth Enamel
Study Links Osteoporosis Drugs to Jaw Trouble
Laser Technology Spots Cavities Before They Start
DIABETES
'Standard' Glucose Test May Be Wrong One for Obese Children
Doctors Urged to Screen Diabetics for Sleep Apnea
Arthritis Hits More Than Half of Diabetics
DIET, NUTRITION
Eating Lots Of Vegetables, Olive Oil May Extend Life
Low-Fat Diet Does Little to Alter Cholesterol Levels
Keep Stress Off the Holiday Meal Menu, Expert Advises
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Rainy Areas in U.S. Show Higher Autism Rates
Skin Woes Take Toll on U.S. Combat Troops
Global Warming Linked to Heightened Kidney Stone Risk
EYE CARE, VISION
Drinking Green Tea May Protect Eyes
Brain Adapts to Age-Related Eye Disease
Glaucoma Associated With Reading Impairments in Elderly
FITNESS
Exercise Key Player in Knee Replacement Recovery
MRSA Infections Can Bug Fitness Buffs
Exercise May Prevent Prostate Cancer: Study Shows
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Gum Chewing May Speed Colon Surgery Recovery
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
GENERAL HEALTH
Health Gains From Lowered Smoking Rates in Jeopardy
A Honey of a Sinusitis Treatment
When It Comes to Lifting, the Pros Have Your Back
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
Airport Full Body Scanners Pose No Health Threat: Experts
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Ginkgo Won't Prevent Heart Attack, Stroke in Elderly
How Weight Loss Can Help the Heart
Vigorous Exercise Cuts Stroke Risk for Men, Not Women
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
The HPV Vaccine: Preventative Medicine or Human Sacrifice?
Swine Flu Now Reported in All 50 States
Chinese 'Devil Dung' Plant Could Be a Swine Flu Fighter
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Backpack Safety Should Be on Back-to-School Lists
Wood Fires Can Harm the Youngest Lungs
School Phys. Ed. Injuries Up 150 Percent
MEN'S HEALTH
Drinking Green Tea May Slow Prostate Cancer
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
Low Iron Levels Cut Cancer Risk in Men With PAD
MENTAL HEALTH
Massage Fosters Healing in Bereaved Relatives
Keeping Mentally Active Seems To Keep The Brain Active
Memory Loss Help from Brain Supplement Prevagen
PAIN
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Breast-Feeding Benefits Moms and Babies
Exercise As Well As Acupuncture, May Ease Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Exercise Boosts Bone Density in Breast-Feeding Moms
SENIORS
Living Alone Increases Odds of Developing Dementia
Seniors Who Volunteer May Live Longer
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Health Tip: Be More Comfortable During Childbirth
Omega-3 May Reduce Endometriosis Risk
Natural Oils Help Lower Body Fat For Some
Add your Article

Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, May 20 (HealthDay News) -- Some older people may have partial immunity to the new H1N1 swine flu virus because of possible exposure to another H1N1 flu strain circulating prior to 1957, a U.S. infectious-disease expert said Wednesday.

"The further back you go in time, the more likely you are to have been exposed to H1N1 virus back before 1957, and there is a possibility that having exposure to that virus many years ago may allow you to have some [antibody] reaction to the new H1N1 that's now circulating," Dr. Daniel Jernigan, deputy director of CDC's Influenza Division, said during a teleconference.

That may explain why the new swine flu outbreak is striking a disproportionately large number of children and young adults. The regular seasonal flu typically takes the biggest toll among the very young and the elderly.

The current H1N1 virus is a distant genetic cousin of the more virulent H1N1 "Spanish flu" virus of 1918 that killed 20 million to 50 million people worldwide, and up to 500,000 in the United states. Seasonal versions of this virus circulated throughout the United States until it was replaced in 1957 by the H2N2 "Asian flu" pandemic virus, which caused 70,000 deaths in the United States.

In 1977, the H1N1 "Russian flu" virus emerged, but people exposed to H1N1 before 1957 were largely immune to this strain, according to the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Jernigan said studies have found evidence of H1N1 antibody activity in blood from older people. "We can infer from that, to some degree, that there is some level of protection," he said.

But he added a note of caution, saying that many years have passed and the new virus, although the same subtype, is different from the H1N1 seasonal flu virus circulating before 1957.

Jernigan also disagreed with an assessment Tuesday by the World Health Organization's director-general, Dr. Margaret Chan, who said production of an H1N1 swine flu vaccine could not begin until mid-July at the earliest, weeks later than previous estimates.

Chan's reasoning: swine flu virus isn't growing very fast in laboratories, making it hard for scientists to get the key ingredient they need for a vaccine -- the "seed stock" from the virus. And she said it would then take months before a vaccine would be available, the Associated Press reported.

However, Jernigan said that in the United States, the steps needed to produce a swine flu vaccine are moving ahead on schedule, and a vaccine should be ready by the fall. "We are moving along and have not had significant delays here in the U.S. with the development of the vaccine candidates," he said.

Jernigan noted that creating a vaccine for the new H1N1 flu is a complicated process. He also suggested making the regular, seasonal flu vaccine available earlier to Americans than its usual late September or early October introduction.

"At this point when to vaccinate [with the new H1N1 vaccine] is going to be driven largely by when it's available," Jernigan said. "If possible we want to have an earlier roll-out of the seasonal influenza vaccine, to make it easier for an additional vaccine if that's the ultimate policy," he said.

"For that reason we will be working closely with manufacturers and with multiple advisory committees through the federal government and with other partners to make sure that what is recommended in terms of timing is feasible and can be initiated, to offer the most protection to the most folks," Jernigan said.

In the United States, most cases of swine flu continue to be no worse than seasonal flu, health officials said. Testing has also found that the swine flu virus remains susceptible to two common antiviral drugs, Tamiflu and Relenza, according to the CDC.

The new swine flu is a highly unusual mix of swine, bird and human flu viruses. Experts worry that, if the new flu virus mutates, people would have limited immunity to fight the infection.

The CDC is concerned with what will happen as the H1N1 virus moves into the Southern Hemisphere, where the flu season is about to start. The agency is also preparing for the virus' likely return in the fall to the Northern Hemisphere.

On Tuesday, U.S. health officials said that people hospitalized with the swine flu who have underlying health problems fare worse than otherwise healthy people who also have been hospitalized. This buttresses the belief that the swine flu is no more dangerous than regular flu, the officials said.

On Wednesday, the CDC was reporting 5,710 U.S. cases of swine flu in 48 states, including eight deaths. The two latest deaths include a 44-year-old man in Missouri -- the state's first such fatality -- and a 57-year-old woman in Arizona, that state's second confirmed swine flu death.

The World Health Organization on Wednesday was reporting 10,243 diagnosed cases in 41 countries, including at least 80 deaths, mostly in Mexico, believed to be the source of the outbreak.

More information

For more on swine flu, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.



SOURCES: May 20, 2009 teleconference with Daniel Jernigan, M.D., Ph.D., medical epidemiology, Influenza Division, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; May 19, 2009, teleconference with Anne Schuchat, M.D., Interim Deputy Director for Science and Public Health Program, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Associated Press

Last Updated: May 20, 2009

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