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Ebola Virus explained

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Low levels of key antibodies may lead to severe cases of H1N1

Australian researchers may have uncovered a clue as to why some people who catch swine flu suffer life-threatening illness.

And if they are right, there is an existing weapon in the treatment arsenal that could help reduce the pandemic death toll. The group found that pregnant women who became severely ill with the new H1N1 virus had low levels of a particular antibody that is known to fight off viruses and help the body respond to vaccine.

Moderately ill women were much less likely to have significantly suppressed levels of the antibody, the researchers reported. "We all believe we may have stumbled onto something very interesting," said Dr. Lindsay Grayson, director of infectious disease at Austin Health, a network of three hospitals in Melbourne.

"To our knowledge it's the first time that a correlation or an association is being noted between severe influenza of any sort and a subtle but potentially important immune deficiency."
 
 

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