Despite the fact that some researchers claim the swine flu is already declining, we are still on the verge of a pandemic that threatens to spiral out of control if we don’t take action. However, the major problem was to understand the virus, because there are still many things we have yet to find out and we can’t act blindly.

Researchers from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania now have some important clues as to why influenza is more severe in some cases and milder in others. If you read their study that was published in the Journal of Leukocyte Biology you’ll find out that the virus can virtually paralyze the immune systems of humans that were otherwise healthy; this can lead to very severe bacterial infections including pneumonia. What’s even worse is that this can last for quite a while, and the cause for this has yet to be explained.

Kathleen Sullivan, M.D., Ph.D and senior researcher comments:

“We have a very limited understanding of why some people who get influenza simply have a bad cold and other people become very sick and even die. The results of this study give us a much better sense of the mechanisms underlying bacterial infections arising on top of the viral infection.”

“Despite major medical advances since the devastating flu outbreak of 1918 and 1919, influenza virus infection remains a very serious threat,” said John Wherry, Ph.D., Deputy Editor of the Journal of Leukocyte Biology, “and the current swine flu outbreak is a grim reminder of this fact. The work by Dr. Sullivan and colleagues brings us a step closer to understanding exactly what goes wrong in some people who get the flu, so, ultimately, physicians can develop more effective treatment strategies.”

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