Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

H1N1 Unlikely to Cause Flu Pandemic in 2010-11

Canadian researchers urge everyone over age 50 to get immunized this fall

From a Health Day News item

By Randy Dotinga
Monday, October 18, 2010

MONDAY, Oct. 18 (HealthDay News) — Canadian researchers say they do not expect the H1N1 virus — the so-called swine flu — to be very severe this year, although they are recommending that everyone over the age of 50, especially those with chronic health conditions, get immunized this fall.

Researchers in British Columbia examined the results of blood tests given to 1,127 people in the province both before and after the 2009 pandemic. Before the pandemic, less than 10 percent of children showed signs of antibodies, which are the “soldiers” in the immune system that develop resistance to specific germs. By contrast, more than three-quarters of people over the age of 80 had the antibodies, suggesting they’d been exposed to the virus before.

This helps explain why children were so severely affected by H1N1 compared to older people, the study authors noted.

In contrast, after the pandemic, 70 percent of people under the age of 20 showed signs of this type of protection, according to the report published online Oct. 18 in the CMAJ.

“The higher percentage with seroprotection [antibodies in blood] we observed in the young may have resulted from higher pandemic H1N1 infection rates and earlier prioritization of pandemic H1N1 vaccine to young children,” said study co-author Dr. Danuta Skowronski, of the BC Centre for Disease Control and University of British Columbia, in a news release from the journal’s publisher.

The researchers wrote that enough people appear to be protected that “these findings reassure against the likelihood of a substantial third pandemic H1N1 wave during the 2010-2011 season, unless there is a significant waning of antibody or change in the virus.”

They also found that “adults 50 to 79 years exhibited the lowest seroprotection and also remain at higher risk of severe outcomes if infected. Our findings support a shift from the prioritized immunization of the young that occurred in fall 2009 to prioritized immunization of older adults for the coming 2010-2011 influenza season to protect against severe outcomes due to both pandemic and seasonal influenza.”

Dr. Peter Katona, associate professor of clinical medicine at the University of California at Los Angeles, cautioned, however, that it’s impossible to know for sure what the flu will do. “Flu is unpredictable regardless of what the models say and what the early surveillance says,” he said in an interview. “It can go in different directions for complicated reasons that you can’t figure out in advance.”

 

October 20, 2010 - Posted by | Health News Items | ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: