ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Traffic, Dust Linked to Asthma in Kids
Climate Change Could Sting Allergy, Asthma Sufferers
Molecule in Skin May Link Eczema and Asthma
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Acupuncture Cuts Dry Mouth in Cancer Patients
Acupuncture May Trigger Natural Painkiller
38% of U.S. Adults Use Alternative Treatments
ANIMAL CARE
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
Safe Toys for Dogs
BONES & JOINTS
Vitamin C Protects Some Elderly Men From Bone Loss
Frankincense Provides Relief for Osteoarthritis
New Clues to How Fish Oils Help Arthritis Patients
CANCER
Immune Therapy May Aid Kids With Neuroblastoma
Want to Stop Cancer? You Can, Experts Say
Multiple Screening Strategy Boosts Cervical Cancer Detection
CAREGIVING
With Alzheimer's, Health-Care Costs Could Triple
Hospital Practices Influence Which Moms Will Breast-Feed
Rapid Infant Weight Gain Linked to Childhood Obesity
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
High Blood Fat Levels Common in Americans
A Brisk Pace May Keep Stroke at Bay
Migraines in Pregnancy Boost Vascular Risks
COSMETIC
Gum Chewing May Cut Craving for Snacks
New Genetic Links to Baldness Discovered
Contact Lenses Boost Kids' Self-Image
DENTAL, ORAL
Gummy Bears Join Cavity Fight
Rheumatoid Arthritis May Harm Gums
Mom's Vitamin D Levels Affect Baby's Dental Health
DIABETES
Vitamin K Slows Insulin Resistance in Older Men
Older Diabetics With Depression Face Higher Death Rate
Whole Grains Take a Bite Out of Type 2 Diabetes Risk
DIET, NUTRITION
Eating Healthy : You Can Live Longer
Myrrh May Lower High Cholesterol
More Whole Grains May Mean Less Fat
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Global Warming Linked to Heightened Kidney Stone Risk
Preparing for a Chlorine Gas Disaster
Traffic Seems to Make Kids' Asthma Worse
EYE CARE, VISION
Autistic Children Make Limited Eye Contact
Blood Sugar Control Helps Diabetics Preserve Sight
Omega-3 Foods May Lower Eye Disease Risk
FITNESS
Fitness Fades Fast After 45
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
Fliers Can Keep Blood Clots at Bay
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
GENERAL HEALTH
Fructose Boosts Blood Pressure, Studies Find
Want Better Health in the New Year, Add Exercise to Your Day
Retail Clinics Attracting Those Without Regular Doctors
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
The Internet Is Becoming One-Stop Shopping for Health Help
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Fructose Boosts Blood Pressure, Studies Find
Laughter Can Boost Heart Health
Ingredient in Dark Chocolate Could Guard Against Stroke
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Poor Restroom Cleaning Causes Cruise-Ship Sickness
Hand Washing 10 Times a Day May Help Keep Flu Away
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Don't Leave Your Kids In The Car !
Exercise in Adolescence May Cut Risk of Deadly Brain Tumor
Even Young Kids Can Learn CPR
MEN'S HEALTH
Drinking Green Tea May Slow Prostate Cancer
Exercise May Prevent Prostate Cancer: Study Shows
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
MENTAL HEALTH
Consciousness Helps the Mind and Body Work Together
Drink Away Dementia?
Common Social Groups and Race, Seem to Help People Relate
PAIN
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
Breast-Feeding Benefits Moms and Babies
Breast-Feeding May Protect a Woman's Heart
SENIORS
Community Exercise Programs Boost Seniors' Strength
Exercise Benefits Even the Oldest Old
Protein Deposits May Show Up Before Memory Problems Occur, Study Says
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Spice Compounds May Stem Tumor Growth
Natural Childbirth Moms More Attuned to Babies' Cry
How Much Fish to Eat While Pregnant?
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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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