Health Watch - Getting Sick: H1N1 Targets

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This week on Health Watch, we’re talking about winter illnesses. Previously, we discussed a virus database researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center are developing. That database is based on one used to research the H1N1 virus. That research helped doctors learn why this strain of flu affects certain types of people more than others.

The flu usually affects older adults most severely. But the current strain of H1N1 affects younger adults and children. With illnesses like the flu, the immune system fights the disease, then recognizes similar viruses to prevent future infections. Dr. Richard Scheuermann, a UT Southwestern pathologist and chief of biomedical informatics, says the current H1N1 flu is in many ways similar to strains of influenza that were common before 1957. That means older adults may have an immune system response to fight this strain of flu because of exposure decades ago, while younger people have no pre-existing immunity.

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February 2010


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