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Had flu? The next pandemic could hit you harder

Why did the 2009 swine flu pandemic kill so many more young adults than children? Paradoxically, it might be because of past exposure to seasonal flu.

When Fernando Polack of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, and colleagues studied 75 adults with swine flu they found severe cases had more antibodies that bound to the virus but didn't kill it (Nature Medicine, DOI: 10.1038/nm.2262). A tangle of virus and antibodies in their lungs activated an immune system component called complement, which failed to clear the mess and instead attacked lung tissue.
 
 

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