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Infectious Disease Specialist Speculates the Elderly May be protected from H1N1

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Rhode Island Hospital infectious diseases specialist Leonard Mermel, DO, hypothesizes in a letter to the editor in the journal The Lancet that the swine influenza H1N1 strain circulating now may have enough similarity to the previously circulating H1N1 strain known as the Russian Flu in the 1970's, or the H1N1 used in past vaccines, that it may lead to protection of older individuals.

"It might be that the H1N1 circulating now (swine-origin influenza virus) has enough antigenic similarity to related H1N1 influenza strains of the past to protect older individuals exposed to them previously. Mortality could be relatively low by predominantly affecting younger people in the absence of the cytokine storm associated with infection due to other influenza viruses such as the 1918 H1N1.5 The months ahead should help us to determine whether this will be the case."
 
 

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