ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Herbal Remedy Could Halt Peanut Allergy
Know Your Asthma Triggers
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Massage Therapy Helps Those With Advanced Cancer
Uncover Why Turmeric Helps You Heal
Massage Fosters Healing in Bereaved Relatives
ANIMAL CARE
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
Safe Toys for Dogs
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
BONES & JOINTS
Gene Therapy May Ease Rheumatoid Arthritis
More Faces Being Spared in Motor Vehicle Accidents
Majority of College Students Report Backpack-Related Pain
CANCER
Gene Studies Reveal Cancer's Secrets
Higher Vitamin D Intake Could Cut Cancer Risk
Supplement Hampers Thyroid Cancer Treatment
CAREGIVING
U.S. Mental Health Spending Rises, But Many Still Left Out
With Alzheimer's, Health-Care Costs Could Triple
Reduce Suffering, Urge Heart Failure Patients and Caregivers
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Exercise Extends Life of Kidney Patients
Drink a Little Wine, Live a Little Longer
Smog Tougher on the Obese
COSMETIC
What to Do If You Have Unsightly Veins
Contact Lenses Boost Kids' Self-Image
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
DENTAL, ORAL
Acid Drinks Blamed for Increase in Tooth Erosion
Good Oral Hygiene May Protect Against Heart Infections
Biological Product Shows Promise Against Gum Disease
DIABETES
Lifestyle Factors Tied to Older Adults' Diabetes Risk
Abnormal Heart Rhythm Boosts Death Risk for Diabetics
Findings Challenge Tight Glucose Control for Critically Ill Patients
DIET, NUTRITION
Natural Oils Help Lower Body Fat For Some
Olive Oil May Be Key to Mediterranean Diet's Benefits
Regular Yoga May Improve Eating Habits
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Small Doses of Carbon Monoxide Might Help Stroke Victims
Chemical in Plastics May Cause Fertility Problems
Database Helps Assess Your Breast Cancer Risk
EYE CARE, VISION
Guard Kids' Eyes Against Long-Term Sun Damage
Eye Care Checkups Tied to Insurance Status
Cases of Age-Related Farsightedness to Soar
FITNESS
More Steps a Day Lead to Better Health
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
Exercise Guards White Blood Cells Against Aging
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
GENERAL HEALTH
Laughter Can Boost Heart Health
Trans-Fat Ban In New York City Is Proving successful
Maximize Your Run
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Lack of Vitamin D Linked to High Blood Pressure
Too-Low Blood Pressure Can Also Bring Danger
Risk Factor for Stroke More Common Among Whites
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
Swine Flu Loves a Crowd
Bacterial Infections May Succumb to Honey
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Backpack Safety Should Be on Back-to-School Lists
Older People at Greater Risk of Swine Flu Death
Babies Cared For In Others Homes Might Become Heavy Toddlers
MEN'S HEALTH
Could Chinese Herb Be a Natural Viagra?
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
Eating Fast Until Full Triples Overweight Risk
MENTAL HEALTH
Keeping Mentally Active Seems To Keep The Brain Active
Common Social Groups and Race, Seem to Help People Relate
Most Depressed Teens Don't Get Treatment
PAIN
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Pre-Pregnancy Weight Linked to Babies' Heart Problems
Woman in America Are Delaying Motherhood, Study Says
Exercise As Well As Acupuncture, May Ease Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
SENIORS
A Little Alcohol May Stave Off Alzheimer's
Nighttime Urination Linked to Higher Death Rate Among Elderly
Any Old Cane Won't Do
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Acupuncture May Relieve Acid Indigestation In Pregnancy
How Much Fish to Eat While Pregnant?
Woman in America Are Delaying Motherhood, Study Says
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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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