Micro Life Zone
Asked by lovedhiren to Cindy, Katelin, Kate, Miranda, Yagiz on 13 Mar 2013.
Keywords: flu, swine
Influenza is a really interesting virus. Inside the virus there are 12 pieces of viral DNA. only 8 are required. Even more interestingly, when two differen flu viruses are in specific species (generally a pig) they can infect the same cell. this means there are 24 pieces of DNA in the cell being replicated, and any 12 can be packaged up. That’s a lot of possibilities right there. This is why there are so many flu strain possibilities. The flu requires two proteins on its surface to infect a cell: neuraminidase and haemagglutinin. There are 17 possible haemagglutinins and 9 possible neuraminidases. some combinations are better than others at helping flu infect cells.These proteins are generally how flu is classified as Hx Ny. Swine flu is H1N5. this combination is what made it easier for swine flu to infect so many humans so quickly. as the combination was most likely new to humans, we did not have any immunity to it.
Each year, one or two strains of flu is predicted by scientists to be the most common. They create vaccines against the right proteins for those strains and those with weak immune systems are best advised to have the vaccine. As the most common strain changes from year to year, the vaccine from one year may not protect against strains common in later years, so you would need to get the vaccine every year to provide the greatest protection of flu.
When a large part of the community is made immune to viruses (about 95% of us) by vaccines this provides what is called herd immunity. The virus cannot live long without host cells, so herd immunity works by making sure it cannot survive long enough in the host to be passed on. This herd immunity can protect those who allergic to vaccines (some are made using eggs) or can’t have them for other medical reasons.
This is why it is important to have your vaccines. They work so well we have eradicated polio and smallpox infections from earth and they were horrible diseases. so that’s a big win for science!
Just at add to what Miranda has said about vaccines… usually the strains of the flu chosen for the vaccines each year aren’t strains that animals carry. They pick the most common strains circulating among humans. So when a strain jumps from an animal to a human it can spread quickly because most people won’t be vaccinated against it.
I wondered this too someone told me it came from pigs?
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it is called swine flue because it can also make pigs sick!
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