Airways hit hard by swine flu14th July 2009
Researchers in the United States have found that swine flu mounts a more sustained attack on the respiratory system than the standard seasonal virus.
Research in animals carried out at the University of Wisconsin showed swine flu multiplies in greater numbers across the respiratory system, causing more damage than seasonal flu.
The H1N1 virus penetrates deeper into the respiratory tissues than seasonal flu, which stays in the head.
This characteristic makes it more likely to cause pneumonia.
The study, published in the journal Nature, also suggests that swine flu may mimic the flu virus which caused the great pandemic of 1968, in which millions died.
That virus, known as H3N2, also caused worse damage to the respiratory system than seasonal viruses.
As well as tests on ferrets, monkeys and mice, researchers analysed samples taken from people who survived the 1918 pandemic.
These people seemed to have acquired immune protection from this pandemic, adding weight to the notion that there are similarities.
Swine flu, however, still mostly produces mild symptoms in the majority of cases, the researchers said.
The virus is still sensitive to anti-viral drugs.
Influenza experts said the study provided a complete analysis of swine flu that they had been waiting for.
The University of Reading's professor Ian Jones, said it showed that the new virus was more serious than seasonal H1N1 but that most patients would recover.
He said the new data would he helpful in severe cases which required hospitalisation.
Imperial College virologist Wendy Barclay said the people should remember that typical circulating human strains of H1N1 have been associated with rather mild illness in recent years.
She said the swine flu virus might only be mimicking the 1918 virus in animals, not people.
Swine flu is thought to have infected more than a million people worldwide, and to have killed at least 500.
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Wednesday 15th July 2009 @ 19:42
Para 6 doesn't make sense - can this please be clarified - many thanks. H3N2?
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Title: Airways hit hard by swine flu
Author: Luisetta Mudie
Article Id: 12134
Date Added: 14th Jul 2009