Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Scientists at the NIH have concluded that….germs come from Germany.

So that’s why the Red Cross won’t let me give blood! (I was born in Frankfurt). I swear I don’t have mad cow…

Now for the real story on the evolution of influenza that doesn’t really tell us more than we already know, but influenza is the topic of the season after all…

Researchers from Penn State and the NIH have conducted an evolutionary analysis of influenza viruses sampled from 1918-2005 in the hopes of investigating the cause of seasonal epidemics in humans.

Researchers found that the 1947 and 1951 severe influenza epidemics were caused by genetic reassortment events (…rift!) between two human influenza viruses of the same H1N1 strain. Why these severe epidemics, where illness and mortality exceeds the standard epidemic level, occur is unknown. Major influenza pandemics (like 1918) are caused by reassortment between human and avian influenza viruses (…shift!).

Findings from the evolutionary analysis suggest that the evolution of seasonal influenza is “more complex than previously thought” (hurrah…), where multiple forms of the same strain circulate and reassort within the same population and thus rapidly generate novel viruses that can erupt in major epidemics.

Julia "Apparently I have tainted blood" Liebner

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