According to CDC, people older than 65 years (born before 1944), are less affected by H1N1 and it is due to the fact that they had the prior immunity to the virus. Probably they had been exposed to a virus similar enough to the new H1N1 for the developed antibodies to still provide protection.
A research group from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine tried to test this hypothesis using mice. They were set as measure of the protection offered by the antibodies developed against various lineages of human influenza, from 1918 to the present day.
More research on this has led to the discovery that human and pigs have evolved in parallel direction and hence antibodies against human lineages will be effective against swine virus as well. Until 1943, the human and swine lineages have not diverged so as to end cross immunity. This similarity is still present as proved by few experiments. Hence people vaccinated in and around 1976 or infected with older lineages have protective immunity against newly evolved H1N1.
Now what exactly can be concluded from this? The results forecast some interesting implications. Previously pigs were considered intermediate between birds and humans. But with time it has been observed that they are usually the reservoirs of the virus that infect us and the immune system has forgotten this. Now if these viruses leap to human again and in due course while humans and pigs will significantly diverge, these viruses will have another susceptible host for themselves. Another point to be kept in mind is that youth should be targeted for vaccination against the new strains of virus as aged population has already grown immune to the same.
Although pigs and humans have common origin, yet they have separated with different rate of evolution. While humans have a heterogeneous population with lots of diversity, the lineages tend to escape the previous immunity. On the other hand pigs have lesser life span and homogeneous population. So they tend to house the virus in them creating a safe reservoir.
“4th International Conference on Influenza and Zoonotic Diseases” will encounter discussions on various topics delving deeper into the cause and trying to find a solution together. Scientists and industrialists around the globe will gather in Vienna, Austria to share their ideas to discover a better solution to this fatal problem.
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