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New Study: Childhood exposure to flu may determine susceptibilit - KVOA | KVOA.com | Tucson, Arizona

New Study: Childhood exposure to flu may determine susceptibility to new strains

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TUCSON -

A new study has found that the type of flu virus people are exposed to during childhood may determine which strains they are protected from for the rest of their lives.

Michael Worobey, UA professor and head of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, says a person’s birth year can predict, to a certain extent, how likely they are to get seriously ill or die in a flu outbreak.  

“Everyone of us gets the flu by the time we are about 5 years old,” said Worobey. “What we found in this study is that very first infection sets you up to either be very good or very poor at protecting yourself against other flu viruses, included novel flu viruses from birds. These are scary viruses that might be the start of the next pandemic.”

Prior to the study, it was believed that previous exposure to a flu virus had little to no protection against new influenza viruses that can transfer from animals to humans. Researchers say this new finding may have important clues to help lower the risks of a major flu pandemic.

The study co-led by researchers from the University of Arizona and the University of California, Los Angeles.  

For more information, visit uanews.arizona.edu.

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