Early infections of influenza A can help predict how the virus will affect people across different ages in the future and could impact the effectiveness of flu vaccines, says a new study published in eLife.
The findings may help improve estimates of both the age-specific risk of acquiring seasonal influenza infections and vaccine effectiveness in similarly vaccinated populations.
Seasonal influenza is an acute respiratory infection caused by influenza viruses that occur across the world. It causes approximately 100,000–600,000 hospitalisations and 5,000–27,000 deaths per year in the US alone. There are three types of seasonal influenza viruses in humans: A, B and C, although C is much less common. Influenza A viruses are further classified into subtypes, with the A(H1N1) and A(H3N2) subtypes currently circulating in humans. A(H1N1) is also written as A(H1N1)pdm09 as it caused the 2009 pandemic and replaced the A(H1N1) virus which had circulated before that year.
Everybody knows by now that the United States and the world are in the grip of one of the dangerous coronaviruses called COVID-19, but what’s a virus and how can it make us feel ill? Why do our bodies react the way they do? Are viruses alive?
“Viruses aren’t considered alive – in class I call them pseudo-alive,” says Dr. Eric Mendenhall, an associate professor of biological sciences at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH).
A virus has got to have a living cell before things can rock and roll.
“They require a host to even begin to function. However, since they use DNA or RNA to pass information to the next round of viruses the cell makes for them, they are subject to some of the same principles of evolution and selection that alive organisms are subject to,” Dr. Mendenhall says. Continue reading →
Were you born in an H1N1 year or an H3N2 year? The first type of influenza virus we are exposed to in early childhood dictates our ability to fight the flu for the rest of our lives, according to a new study from a team of infectious disease researchers at McMaster University and Université de Montréal.
The findings, published this week in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, provide compelling new evidence to support the phenomenon known as ‘antigenic imprinting’, which suggests that early exposure to one of the two flu strains that circulate every year imprints itself on our immunity and disproportionately affects the body’s lifelong response to the flu. Continue reading →