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Indigenous groups more vulnerable in the fight against flu

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Researchers at the University of Melbourne have discovered that some Indigenous groups will be more susceptible to the effects of the new strain of influenza (H7N9) currently found in China.

Research indicated that some Indigenous people such as in Alaska and Australia displayed limited immunity response to the effects of influenza.
Published in the Journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, senior author, Associate Professor Katherine Kedzierska from the Department of Microbiology and Immunology said that some groups have a specific genetic make-up that prevents them from fighting off influenza.

“The findings suggested that there may be ethnic differences in the ability to mount an immune response to the H7N9 virus,” said Associate Professor Kedzierska

“Due to genetic differences in a protein complex involved in cell-mediated immune responses, people may vary in their ability to mount this kind of immune response against the H7N9 influenza virus that emerged unexpectedly in February 2013.”

The new influenza virus called H7N9 which originated in birds and caused an outbreak in China in March 2013, infected more than 140 people. The flu strain resulted in a very high mortality rate of 30 per cent due to severe pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome.

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