Why is this year’s flu packing such a wallop? And why is it taking such a harsh toll on young children?
One reason is that the flu virus has changed, or mutated, slightly in the nine months since flu makers designed this year’s vaccine, and those changes may be rendering the vaccine less effective, according to flu expert John Treanor, M.D., director of the Vaccine Treatment and Evaluation Unit at the University of Rochester. Treanor provides an update on this year’s flu – and explains the reasons for its unusual severity – in an article in the January 15, 2004 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
While this year’s flu vaccine may be less effective than expected, an additional problem is making this flu season worse for young children. The flu virus most prevalent this year is from a family of viruses that has been scarce in the United States over the last three years. That means nearly all children ages three and under have never encountered the virus – or one similar to it – and haven’t produced antibodies that can fight it.
Christopher DiFrancesco | UMRC
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