Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Getting To Know A Bit More About H1N1 Swine Flu

I stumbled on an informative essay about how we get a new nasty flu virus that we don't have a good vaccine for.

An excerpt:

...When two different species’ influenza strains (for example pig and human) recombine, the novel viral strain that emerges potentially has a better chance of evading the immune system and persisting in the host organism than the pre-existing viral strains. In other words, the host organism’s immune system doesn’t have antibodies for viruses indigenous to other species and thanks to the original virus that is indigenous to the host, molecular features necessary for “optimal” host infection are retained...

The mechanism for the big genetic change is called antigenic shift and YouTube has a great, easy to understand video clip (which I originally saw on this blog post):

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