ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Air Quality Better in Northeast, Midwest
Asthmatics Who Quit Smoking May Reverse Lung Damage
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Traditional Chinese Therapy May Help Ease Eczema
Acupuncture May Trigger Natural Painkiller
Meditation May Boost Short-Term Visual Memory
ANIMAL CARE
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
Beware of Dog Bites
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
BONES & JOINTS
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Put Your Best Foot Forward Next Year
Fractures in Older Adults Up Death Risk
CANCER
Higher Vitamin D Intake Could Cut Cancer Risk
Lifting Weights Can Ease Arm Swelling in Breast Cancer Survivors
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
CAREGIVING
Study of Everest Climbers Questions Oxygen Use
Weekend Admission May Be Riskier for GI Bleeding
Child's Food Allergies Take Toll on Family Plans
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Bad Marriages Harder on Women's Health
An Apple a Day May Help Keep Heart Disease Away
Salt Boosts Blood Pressure in High-Risk Patients
COSMETIC
Study Evaluates Laser Therapies for Hair Removal
Gum Chewing May Cut Craving for Snacks
What to Do If You Have Unsightly Veins
DENTAL, ORAL
Health Tip: At Risk for Gingivitis
Gum Disease Might Boost Cancer Risk
Acid Drinks Blamed for Increase in Tooth Erosion
DIABETES
Fructose-Sweetened Drinks Up Metabolic Syndrome Risk
Boosting Vitamin D Can Do a Heart Good
Americans Consuming More Sugary Beverages
DIET, NUTRITION
Pesticides on Produce Tied to ADHD in Children
Blueberry Drink Protects Mice From Obesity, Diabetes
Uncover Why Turmeric Helps You Heal
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Childhood Food Allergies on the Rise
Golf Course Insecticides Pose Little Danger to Players
Pilots May Face Greater Cancer Risk
EYE CARE, VISION
Green Tea May Ward Off Eye Disease
Magnetic Pulses to Brain Improve Lazy Eye in Adults
Vision Test for Young Children Called Unreliable
FITNESS
Moderate Aerobic Exercise Lowers Diabetics' Liver Fat
Simple Steps Get Walkers Moving
Higher Fitness Levels Tied to Lower Heart, Death Risks
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
Gum Chewing May Speed Colon Surgery Recovery
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
GENERAL HEALTH
Dry Weather Boosts Odds of Flu Outbreaks
Life Expectancy in U.S. Hits New High
Smog Tougher on the Obese
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
The Internet Is Becoming One-Stop Shopping for Health Help
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Quitting Smoking Doubles Survival in Early Stage Lung Cancer
Vitamin B3 May Help Repair Brain After a Stroke
Relaxation Tapes or Mozart Lower Blood Pressure
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Closes Three Schools in NYC
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
Hand Washing 10 Times a Day May Help Keep Flu Away
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Time to Remind Teens About Sun Protection
Play Creatively as a Kid, Be a Healthier Adult
Bullying Seems to Affect Kids Years Later
MEN'S HEALTH
More Vitamin C May Mean Less Chance of Gout
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Soy Linked to Low Sperm Count
MENTAL HEALTH
Teen Internet Addicts More Likely to Self-Harm: Study
The 3LS Wellness Program for Reversing Chronic Symptoms and Creating Lasting Health
Psychotherapy Can Boost Happiness More Than Money
PAIN
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Before Conceiving, Take Folic Acid for One Full Year
Woman in America Are Delaying Motherhood, Study Says
Heart Defects in Newborns Linked to Antidepressants
SENIORS
Tai Chi and Qigong Offer Many Health Benefits: Review
Exercise Helps Reduce Falls in Young and Old
Life Expectancy in U.S. Hits New High
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Mom and Baby Alike May Benefit From Exercise
Heart Defects in Newborns Linked to Antidepressants
Caffeine in Pregnancy Associated With Low Birth Weight Risk
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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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