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2 Studies Question the Effectiveness of Flu Vaccines
NY Times ^ | September 21, 2005 | ELISABETH ROSENTHAL

Posted on 09/21/2005 2:27:51 PM PDT by neverdem

Rome, Sept. 21 - Just as governments around the world are stockpiling millions of doses of flu vaccine and antiviral drugs in anticipation of a potential influenza pandemic, two new research papers published today have found that such treatments are far less effective than previously thought.

"The studies published today reinforce the shortcomings of our efforts to control influenza," wrote Dr. Guan Yi, a virologist at the University of Hong Kong, in an editorial that accompanied the papers. The two studies were published early online by the British medical journal, the Lancet, because of their implications for the upcoming flu season.

In one paper, international researchers analyzed all the data from patient studies on the flu vaccine performed worldwide in the past 37 years and discovered that vaccines showed at best a "modest" ability to prevent influenza or its complications in elderly people.

"The runaway 100 percent effectiveness that's touted by proponents was nowhere to be seen," said Tom Jefferson, a Rome-based researcher with the Cochrane Vaccine Fields project, an international consortium of scientists who perform systematic reviews of research data.

"There is a wild overestimation of the impact of these vaccines in the community," Dr. Jefferson said. "In the case of a pandemic, we are unsure from the data whether these vaccines would work on the elderly."

In the second paper, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control found that influenza viruses, particularly those from the dreaded bird flu strain, had developed high rates of resistance to older and cheaper antiviral drugs - rates that have escalated rapidly since 2003, particularly in Asia.

(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; Extended News; Government; News/Current Events; US: District of Columbia; US: Georgia; United Kingdom
KEYWORDS: influenza
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1 posted on 09/21/2005 2:27:55 PM PDT by neverdem
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To: Mother Abigail; Judith Anne
I tried locating these studies on PubMed, Lancet and BMJ, but no luck.
2 posted on 09/21/2005 2:33:59 PM PDT by neverdem (May you be in heaven a half hour before the devil knows that you're dead.)
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To: neverdem
My personal experience has been that in a 9 year period, I received the flu shot 9 times, and got the flu 7 times. In the 13 years since, I haven't gotten a single flu shot and have only gotten the flu twice.

Of course, your mileage may vary.

Best Regards

Sergio
3 posted on 09/21/2005 2:35:49 PM PDT by Sergio (If a tree fell on a mime in the forest, would he make a sound?)
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To: neverdem

This is beginning to sound like the 50's reaction to an atomic bomb: "When you see the flash, bend over with your head between your knees, and kiss your arse goodbye." Who's incharge here?


4 posted on 09/21/2005 2:38:54 PM PDT by Jon Burrows
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To: Sergio

My dad says he was never sicker from the flu than when he got a flu shot.


5 posted on 09/21/2005 2:41:01 PM PDT by CzarNicky (The problem with bad ideas is that they seemed like good ideas at the time.)
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To: Sergio

My mileage. Am 68 yrs. old have never gotten a flu shot and had the flu once.


6 posted on 09/21/2005 2:41:11 PM PDT by OldFriend (One Man With Courage Makes a Majority ~ Andrew Jackson)
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To: Sergio

During flu season - wash your hands many times/day & avoid touching face = no flu.


7 posted on 09/21/2005 2:45:40 PM PDT by TheOracleAtLilac
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To: Sergio
My personal experience has been that in a 9 year period, I received the flu shot 9 times, and got the flu 7 times. In the 13 years since, I haven't gotten a single flu shot and have only gotten the flu twice.

You should apply for a $1 million/year research grant to keep up your study. That's how the liberals make a killing teaching. As a bonus, then there will be three studies regarding flu vaccines...

8 posted on 09/21/2005 2:46:03 PM PDT by 69ConvertibleFirebird (Never argue with an idiot. They drag you down to their level, then beat you with experience.)
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To: OldFriend

I got my first flu shot in my life last year.. a "MUST" to be able to care for our precious Logan, and I wound up with pneumonia!!!

Nana


9 posted on 09/21/2005 2:46:10 PM PDT by Texas Termite (Please pray for Texas Cowboy & Simcha7)
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To: neverdem
The runaway 100 percent effectiveness that's touted by proponents was nowhere to be seen

I have been board-certified in Infectious Diseases for twenty-three years, and the HIGHEST efficacy I have ever seen claimed for influenza vaccine is 78%. Many studies claim lower efficacy.

I have NEVER, EVER seen or heard a claim of 100% effectiveness, not to mention "runaway 100% effectiveness", whatever that is.

The fact is, if a flu vaccine protects 70% of people who get it, and all people over 65 get it, tens of thousands of lives are saved in a typical flu season.

That's reason enough to promote it.

10 posted on 09/21/2005 2:47:18 PM PDT by Jim Noble (In a time of universal deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act - Orwell)
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To: neverdem; Mother Abigail; Judith Anne
I believe this goes back to a doctrine that I was taught in immunology about immunity and the Orthomyxoviradae, specifically Influenza viruses. The doctrine was about the original antigenic sin and the immunity one produces when exposed to the influenza virus each time. The human immune system cannot determine specificity for a influenza virus each exposure and produces immunity from an anamnestic response to the first type of influenza one is first exposed (ie, each new exposure has an anamnestic immunological response to the first influenza virus encountered and is rarely protective against the newer exposure). With the scientific community clamoring for flu vaccine each year with new vaccine strains, I was led to believe that the original antigenic sin doctrine was passe...now it appears now that it may be more on the mark. With the gamble of production of a vaccine that is the correct strain and the host's immunological history, a flu vaccination is a gamble on par with the Tennessee Lottery.

Please tell me I need to get back up to date with my immunology, I would love to be informed that my education in reference to influenza vaccine has become outdated. OTOH, I remember finding some information in an old German Microbiology Journal from 1890 written by Koch while researching adjuvants was dead on eighty years before it became researched thoroughly with modern techniques.

11 posted on 09/21/2005 2:50:43 PM PDT by vetvetdoug (Shiloh, Corinth, Iuka, Brices Crossroads, Harrisburg, Britton Lane, Holly Springs, Hatchie Bridge,)
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To: Sergio

I agree. Have had one flu shot about 6 years ago and that was only because it was free and a drive thru. I can't remember the last time I had the flu - perhaps '92.


12 posted on 09/21/2005 2:53:14 PM PDT by mtbopfuyn (Legality does not dictate morality... Lavin)
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To: vetvetdoug

Sorry I cannot help you. You're waaaaay above my pay grade. MA probably can. ;-D


13 posted on 09/21/2005 3:02:06 PM PDT by Judith Anne (Thank you St. Jude for favors granted.)
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To: neverdem
I have avoided getting flu shots for years, and have avoided the flu.

When the vaccine for the Avian Flu becomes available, I shall wait in line all night outside the clinic to get it, even if it doesn't protect "perfectly".

This new monster has a mortality rate of over 50% - and that is with many of it's victims getting treated in intensive care units. Granted, the evolution of this virus into higher morbidity in humans will likely decrease the death rate to something less nightmarish, say, 5%. But, if 50% of Americans catch it that still means 7-8 million unscheduled funerals. That's a lot different than the "usual" mortality of 30-60,000 extra deaths we are used to each winter.

This is a medical CAT 5 brewing out there. Hopefully, it will continue to swirl around longer while we manufacture vaccine and accumulate Tamiflu. If the current outbreak in Indonesia turns nasty(er), it could be on us in a short period of time - too late to do anything about it.

14 posted on 09/21/2005 3:03:08 PM PDT by Gritty ("Eradicating smallpox was wrong. It was important in balancing ecostystems-John Davis, Earth First!)
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To: neverdem

I'm in the senior population.

Had a flu shot one year long ago (I think the '70's). Got the flu.

Have had neither shots nor flu since.

Extended family of 11 doesn't get the shots and don't get the flu, either. Do use prayer, wisdom, homeopathy and herbs.


15 posted on 09/21/2005 3:05:16 PM PDT by Spirited
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To: Sergio

I've never had a flu shot, had a mild case last winter. Hub got the shot (free) and got flu + pneumonia.


16 posted on 09/21/2005 3:06:54 PM PDT by Judith Anne (Thank you St. Jude for favors granted.)
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To: neverdem

I have been getting a flu shot every year (except last year), and I have had the flu several times afterwards. Invariably, though, the doctors say, "Well, it must have been some other virus." Sure acts like flu to me!


17 posted on 09/21/2005 3:09:39 PM PDT by madprof98
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To: Judith Anne

About the paygrade, I don't know, you have sent me back to the blackboard and books a number of times with your discussions. At least you and MA make the study exciting again.


18 posted on 09/21/2005 3:11:34 PM PDT by vetvetdoug (Shiloh, Corinth, Iuka, Brices Crossroads, Harrisburg, Britton Lane, Holly Springs, Hatchie Bridge,)
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To: neverdem

for later bump


19 posted on 09/21/2005 3:13:19 PM PDT by redgolum ("God is dead" -- Nietzsche. "Nietzsche is dead" -- God.)
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To: vetvetdoug

Thank you for your many contributions, FRiend. ;-D


20 posted on 09/21/2005 3:15:43 PM PDT by Judith Anne (Thank you St. Jude for favors granted.)
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To: Jim Noble; Judith Anne; vetvetdoug

Do the letters in the name influenza A H5N1 stand for Hemagglutinin gene and protein as well Neuraminidase gene and protein?


21 posted on 09/21/2005 3:18:47 PM PDT by neverdem (May you be in heaven a half hour before the devil knows that you're dead.)
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To: neverdem
Yes, H=hemagglutinin and N=neuraminidase.

AFAIK, the numbers stand for envelope gene product, I don't know if the corresponding genes have the same names,

22 posted on 09/21/2005 3:24:51 PM PDT by Jim Noble (In a time of universal deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act - Orwell)
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To: neverdem; All

what a load of $^$&$^

I have a weak immune system. When everybody around me with STRONG immune systems get the flu (no shot for them), but I stay flu-free after getting a shot (I catch a cold after even the slightst sniffle), that is not luck.

Flu shots work. Damn well.

What a pathetic study.


23 posted on 09/21/2005 3:24:54 PM PDT by rwfromkansas (http://www.xanga.com/home.aspx?user=rwfromkansas)
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To: neverdem
This is the NYT. Its not about Flu shots. Its not about the Flu.

Watch in the next few days... some negative new diatribe against ("Against, Against, Against... ", Z. Miller) Bush appear in the LSM, and it will surely link to this article for support.

24 posted on 09/21/2005 4:21:24 PM PDT by C210N (Today is a gift, that's why it is called the present)
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To: Jim Noble

Thank you!


25 posted on 09/21/2005 4:32:55 PM PDT by neverdem (May you be in heaven a half hour before the devil knows that you're dead.)
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To: Texas Termite
Yes, I know someone who's doctor insisted the husband get the shot before he'd allow the newborn home.

The husband was sick as a dog for weeks.

26 posted on 09/21/2005 4:57:39 PM PDT by OldFriend (One Man With Courage Makes a Majority ~ Andrew Jackson)
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To: Sergio

Individual experiences make good anecdotes, but poor statistics.

So, to improve our statistical base in this discussion, I will report that for the last ten years I have had a flu shot each year, and have not had the flu in that time. Before then, I got the flu about every fourth year, with one very severe case in 1975, which had aftereffects lasting about five months. A real, strong case of the flu can be a disaster. Some cases are fatal.

The shots are cheap. I would take them even if they were only 20% effective.


27 posted on 09/21/2005 5:31:23 PM PDT by docbnj
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To: El Gato; JudyB1938; Ernest_at_the_Beach; Robert A. Cook, PE; lepton; LadyDoc; jb6; tiamat; PGalt; ..
Almost Before We Spoke, We Swore

Mars Orbiter Spots Changes on Red Planet

Mars Global Surveyor

FReepmail me if you want on or off my health and science ping list.

28 posted on 09/21/2005 5:59:38 PM PDT by neverdem (May you be in heaven a half hour before the devil knows that you're dead.)
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To: neverdem

good pings.....

I get the flu shot whenever I can...

but I think COFFEE, hots and lots, is the greater deterrent.


29 posted on 09/21/2005 7:24:37 PM PDT by bitt ('It is a good thing the Commander in Chief is tough as nails.' (FR))
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To: vetvetdoug



Doug, the development of preventive vaccines and antimicrobial therapies is among the greatest achievements of modern medicine.

Unfortunately, the tremendous evolutionary potential of microbes empowers them with adeptness at developing resistance to even the most potent therapies and complicating attempts to create effective vaccines.

In some cases, the antimicrobial drug target on the microbe mutates in such a way that binding of the antiviral or antibiotic no longer inhibits the virus or bacteria.

For example, one of the major obstacles to the development of an effective vaccine against HIV is the very rapid antigenic change that the viral surface proteins undergo regularly.

In fact, their mutation rate is so high that almost every retroviral particle is genetically different from every other particle by at least one nucleotide substitution.


ORIGINAL ANTIGENC SIN

The term is a nod to both science and theology. An antigen is biologists' term for an invading organism, such as the influenza virus. Original sin is a theological concept that accounts for human flaws.

Original antigenic sin describes an apparent failing in the human immune system: it may recognize a certain strain of a disease, such as this year's strain of flu virus, but then tries to combat an entirely different strain by "remembering" how it fought the first strain it encountered.

As a result, if you skip a flu shot one year, you may be more likely to get the flu during that year, compared to your chances of illness if you had never gotten a flu shot in previous years.

The immune system's memory actually inhibits the system from learning something new about the flu next year.

NEW STRATAGIES

Priming the immune system with a cocktail of related peptides based on the epitope seems to expand a more broadly reactive and durable T helper cell response than does immunization with a single peptide.

This vaccine strategy may circumvent original antigenic sin. (We hope)

BOTTOM LINE

The flu shot protects you quite a bit against the flu this year, and your increased susceptibility next year from original antigenic sin is much smaller than the increased protection this year.


30 posted on 09/21/2005 7:35:37 PM PDT by Mother Abigail
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To: CzarNicky
My dad says he was never sicker from the flu than when he got a flu shot.

Same here. The last injection I received was in the early 70's. In a couple days I became very ill... and ended up with double pneumonia. I've never taken another one....and have only had a couple light cases of flu since then. My understanding is that the strain you're getting via injection this year... is last year's strain anyway.

31 posted on 09/21/2005 8:23:27 PM PDT by LaineyDee (Don't mess with Texas wimmen!)
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To: neverdem; All
I support:

Alkalizing the body's pH is the key to staying in great health!

32 posted on 09/21/2005 8:31:58 PM PDT by hookman
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To: neverdem
Thanks for the ping. Interesting.

I never had a flu shot and don't anticipate ever getting one. My wife says I will die from the flu one day. I seem to get it about once every 5-7 years and when I do...whoa! I feel like I am mentally fighting off death, it's a real battle...but then I imagine that most people that get it feel that lousy.

33 posted on 09/21/2005 8:57:37 PM PDT by PGalt
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To: Mother Abigail
Thank you for the updated CE information about the Original Antigenic Sin. What I glean is get the shot yearly and don't miss a year or you'll be screwed.:-)
34 posted on 09/21/2005 9:05:55 PM PDT by vetvetdoug (Shiloh, Corinth, Iuka, Brices Crossroads, Harrisburg, Britton Lane, Holly Springs, Hatchie Bridge,)
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To: Jim Noble
I have been board-certified in Infectious Diseases for twenty-three years, and the HIGHEST efficacy I have ever seen claimed for influenza vaccine is 78%. Many studies claim lower efficacy.

I have NEVER, EVER seen or heard a claim of 100% effectiveness, not to mention "runaway 100% effectiveness", whatever that is.

The fact is, if a flu vaccine protects 70% of people who get it, and all people over 65 get it, tens of thousands of lives are saved in a typical flu season.

That's reason enough to promote it.

ROTFLMAO! Could you please tabulate the number of people who DON'T die of something? The flu vaccine didn't protect anyone last year. We vaccinated for the wrong types.

35 posted on 09/21/2005 9:42:42 PM PDT by I got the rope
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To: PGalt
Influenza

Complications Respiratory complication include: acute bronchitis (about 20% cases with increased risk in the elderly and those with chronic disease), secondary bacterial pneumonia (especially Staph. aureus), primary viral pneumonia, exacerbations of asthma and COPD, empyema, pulmonary aspergillosis, sinusitis.

Watch out for complications. Starting to feel better after a presumed case of flu, I started to cough up blood tinged sputum in addition to chills and feeling awful again. I believe I may have had staph pnuemonia which responded to Zithromax or Biaxin 5 years ago.

36 posted on 09/21/2005 9:54:51 PM PDT by neverdem (May you be in heaven a half hour before the devil knows that you're dead.)
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To: neverdem

Will somebody mention that the flu vaccine is only for about 3 flu viruses du juor? There are so many viruses that can develop that a 'newcomer' can knock you flat.


37 posted on 09/21/2005 9:59:30 PM PDT by xJones
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To: neverdem

The last time I had a flu shot was when I marched the gauntlet at Parris Island. People in white coats lined up with needles on both sides; left arm, right arm, march two steps; left arm, right arm, march two steps. Etc. - - I felt like a friggin' voodoo doll by the time it was over. Got sick as a dog that night and I am positive it was the flu shot because I felt like I had the flu.

Haven't had a flu shot in 25 years and I haven't had the flu, either.


38 posted on 09/21/2005 10:04:40 PM PDT by Lancey Howard
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To: xJones

Actually...I think last year's flu vaccine was for about 14 strains of flu. None were found in the US. I believe three strains of flu hit the US last year and NO ONE was vaccinated for it.


39 posted on 09/21/2005 10:11:58 PM PDT by I got the rope
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To: I got the rope
Actually...I think last year's flu vaccine was for about 14 strains of flu. None were found in the US. I believe three strains of flu hit the US last year and NO ONE was vaccinated for it.

I'd bet you're right. I remember the flu vaccine 'shortage' last year - which was all Bush's fault, of course - and how younger family members were desperate to get the over 65 relatives receive that shot. And the shot was unnecessary, but that's beside the point.

40 posted on 09/21/2005 10:26:10 PM PDT by xJones
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To: xJones; Jim Noble; Judith Anne; Mother Abigail; vetvetdoug
Will somebody mention that the flu vaccine is only for about 3 flu viruses du juor?

Uh, I thought you just did. ;^)

Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the recommended annual flu shot a combination of three inactivated influenza viral types thought to be most likely coming from the Far East each year, and isn't the HxNx nomenclature for for Influenza Type A subtypes?

Do Influenza Types B or C have variations of the Hemagglutinin or Neuraminidase enzymes on their capsid coats? I'm just a humble FP.

41 posted on 09/21/2005 10:47:50 PM PDT by neverdem (May you be in heaven a half hour before the devil knows that you're dead.)
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To: neverdem
11 Antigenic Variants of Influenza A/H3N2 Virusesp>

Antigenic Variants of Influenza A/H3N2 Viruses

42 posted on 09/21/2005 11:26:13 PM PDT by I got the rope
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To: I got the rope

Boy that post was screwed up.


43 posted on 09/21/2005 11:28:13 PM PDT by I got the rope
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To: I got the rope
Boy that post was screwed up.

There's always a chance to redeem oneself. What's the logic to the nomenclature?

44 posted on 09/21/2005 11:34:41 PM PDT by neverdem (May you be in heaven a half hour before the devil knows that you're dead.)
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To: neverdem

Well it supposed to convey some of the distance variations in the amino acid sequences in the H3N2 virus.


45 posted on 09/21/2005 11:58:19 PM PDT by I got the rope
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To: I got the rope
Well it supposed to convey some of the distance variations in the amino acid sequences in the H3N2 virus.

Let me hazard a guess. I'm not a virologist. The names represent the place and year that various single nucleotide polymorphisms, aka as snips which caused illness, were sampled and which were designated variants of the Influenza A H3N2 subtype.

46 posted on 09/22/2005 12:48:26 AM PDT by neverdem (May you be in heaven a half hour before the devil knows that you're dead.)
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To: Jim Noble

When I read 100% efectiveness I KNEW I was reading the rantings of an imbicle. I read no further.

BTW, I've never gotten the flu shot, and had the flu only once.

What does that prove? Simply this: "I've never gotten the flu shot, and had the flu only once." No more, no less.


47 posted on 09/22/2005 4:17:44 AM PDT by Balding_Eagle (God has blessed Republicans with really stupid enemies.)
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To: neverdem



Influenza viruses belong to the orthomyxovirus family and consist of types A, B, and C. These medium-sized (80 to 120 nm), enveloped, single-stranded RNA viruses contain eight gene segments (seven for influenza C).

The segmented nature of the genome allows reassortment of RNA segments between two influenza viruses during dual infection and facilitates antigenic variation.

Surface glycoprotein spikes possess either hemagglutinin or neuraminidase activity.

Hemagglutinin mediates cell attachment and fusion of virus and cell membranes. By cleaving terminal sialic acid residues and destroying the receptors recognized by hemagglutinin, neuraminidase promotes release of virus from infected cells and spread within the respiratory tract.

Influenza C viruses have seven gene segments and lack a neuraminidase.


The surface glycoproteins induce host humoral and cellular immune responses and are responsible for the changing antigenicity of influenza viruses.

Two major types of antigenic change can occur: drift and shift. Antigenic drift refers to relatively minor changes in hemagglutinin and, less often, neuraminidase antigenicity that occur frequently (usually every few years) and sequentially in the setting of selective immunologic pressure in the population. Drift results from point mutations of the corresponding RNA segment.

Antigenic shift occurs only in influenza A viruses and results from acquisition of a new gene segment for hemagglutinin with or without one for neuraminidase.

This may occur through genetic reassortment during dual infections with human and animal influenza type A viruses; by the reintroduction of a virus that has not circulated recently in the human population; or by direct transmission to humans of an animal influenza virus that is capable of efficient human-to-human transmission.

MA


48 posted on 09/22/2005 5:04:51 AM PDT by Mother Abigail
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To: LucyT


Done


49 posted on 09/22/2005 5:24:21 AM PDT by Mother Abigail
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To: TheOracleAtLilac
During flu season - wash your hands many times/day & avoid touching face = no flu.

So much more effective than the shots. I carry a little bottle of that alcohol hand rinse stuff in my car, and just do a quick wash when I come in from the grocery store or mall. No flu.

50 posted on 09/22/2005 9:35:17 AM PDT by SupplySider
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