Chance of surviving global flu pandemic linked to birth year

Chance of surviving global flu pandemic linked to birth year

This study revealed that people had 75 percent chances of being safe from growing severely sick and 80 percent chances of being protected from dying of H7N9 bird flu or H5N1 bird flu based on the year they were born.

The researchers reported their findings in the latest study of journal Science.

That makes them much less susceptible as an adult to other strains within that group.

A United Kingdom expert said that could explain different patterns in flu pandemics. In other words, researchers assumed that everyone's immune system would be defenseless against a new, widespread strain of the flu, she said. They found that whichever strain a person got exposed to during his/her first infection with flu virus as a child determined which flu strain he/she would be protected against during a future infection. This is the virus that caused massive problems and may have been responsible for one of the worst flu outbreaks of all time.

Getting infected with a certain flu virus as a child could affect an individual's resistance to new strains emerging from animals, researchers have said. Older adults, born before 1968, were not exposed to this type of virus as children.

Those born before 1968 are said to have a lower chance to die from H5N1 strain of bird flu.

People born prior 1968 have the probability to be diagnosed with the H1 or H2 flu strains as kids, because these diseases were common in those days.

As such, UCLA professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, James Lloyd Smith, comments, "Our findings show clearly that this "childhood imprinting" gives strong protection against severe infection or death from two major strains of [bird flu]".

Furthermore, medical director of the Northwell Health Huntington Hospital, Dr. Michael Grosso, adds that this research is "a real step forward for the public health community and those tasked with protecting the population from influenza outbreaks-especially viruses like avian flu that jump from animal reservoirs to humans".