Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Why is this year’s flu so severe?

15.01.2004


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.



“The immune systems of young kids are being caught off guard this year,” says Treanor. “Young children who get influenza are at higher risk for becoming seriously ill and developing other complications. That’s why we’re hearing more reports of very sick infants and toddlers, and why we have been urging parents to have their kids immunized.” Treanor notes that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently began to recommend influenza vaccination for all children six months to 23 months of age.

Flu vaccines typically are designed to protect against several strains of virus from different families of influenza. But over time viruses change, or mutate. Scientists studying this year’s flu virus have discovered two particular changes that are troublesome because they occurred in proteins on the outer surface of the virus that this year’s vaccine was designed to target. The small mutations changed the features of those proteins, making it difficult for antibodies to grab hold and mount an attack. The phenomenon is known as “antigenic drift,” and it enables a virus to spread even among people who are immunized or who had developed antibodies after a previous encounter with the flu. The most recent significant case of antigenic drift occurred in 1997, resulting in a flu season that, like the current one, began early and proved severe.

Treanor says that despite the changes discovered in the current strain of flu, this year’s flu vaccine is still likely to offer some protection, although it is not possible to predict how much. He notes that vaccines that use a weakened form of live influenza, such as the new nasally administered vaccine, may induce a broader immune response that offers better protection against such changes in the virus.

The Vaccine Treatment and Evaluation Unit at the University of Rochester is part of a network of seven centers established by the federal government to respond to national needs in the area of infectious diseases. This entails testing new vaccines or treatments for diseases or illnesses like flu, smallpox, whooping cough, pneumonia, malaria, and tuberculosis.


For more media inquiries, contact:
Chris DiFrancesco
(585) 273-4790

Christopher DiFrancesco | UMRC
Further information:
http://www.urmc.rochester.edu/pr/news/story.cfm?id=454

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht New malaria analysis method reveals disease severity in minutes
14.08.2017 | University of British Columbia

nachricht New type of blood cells work as indicators of autoimmunity
14.08.2017 | Instituto de Medicina Molecular

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A Map of the Cell’s Power Station

18.08.2017 | Life Sciences

Engineering team images tiny quasicrystals as they form

18.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers printed graphene-like materials with inkjet

18.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>