Birth year may be key to flu survival

11th November 2016

The year you were born may decide whether or not you survive the next global flu pandemic, researchers have found.

A new study, published in the journal Science, found the first type of flu people are exposed to as a child sets up the immune system against one of the two main strains.

Therefore, people who were born before the late 1960s have better resilience against H1, H2 and H5N1, whereas people born later would have some resistance against H7 and human H3 strains.

The researchers found there was an 80% protection rate against death for the matching flu strain, reports the Independent.

Professor Michael Worobey, head of Arizona University’s Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, who took part in the study, said: ’In a way it’s a good-news, bad-news story.

’It’s good news in the sense that we can now see the factor that really explains a big part of the story: your first infection sets you up for either success or failure in a huge way, even against “novel” flu strains. 

’The bad news is the very same imprinting that provides such great protection may be difficult to alter with vaccines.’

Source: Pulse online 11/11/2016

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