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September 18, 2009 | Karen Kaplan
As health officials brace for a new onslaught of illness from the novel H1N1 virus, they remain perplexed by one of the most unusual and unsettling patterns to emerge from this pandemic -- the tendency of the so-called swine flu to strike younger, healthier people. The initial explanation was that the elderly, who are usually most vulnerable to the flu, have built-in immunity as a result of their exposure more than 50 years ago to ancestors of today's pandemic strain. But the limits of the theory are becoming more clear.
September 14, 2009 | Karen Kaplan
The virus behind the current influenza pandemic may be known as swine flu, but it didn't come only from pigs. Wild birds and humans also played a role in its creation. Scientists are still trying to unravel how it wound up infecting people and spreading rapidly around the globe. Here's what they know so far. What's the lineage of H1N1? The new H1N1 strain is based primarily on an unusual influenza virus that has been circulating widely in U.S. pigs since the mid-1990s.
September 12, 2009 | Thomas H. Maugh II
Preliminary data from U.S. trials of vaccines against the pandemic H1N1 influenza virus show that a strong immune reaction is provoked by one dose of the vaccine within eight to 10 days after it is administered, federal officials said at a news conference this morning. The findings "corroborate and reinforce data from company trials" that were reported earlier this week, said Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which is running the trials.
August 28, 2009 | Rong-Gong Lin II
Health officials are expressing concerns about California's preparedness for the upcoming flu season, in which an already strained healthcare system will have to cope with seasonal influenza as well as the swine flu. The California Department of Public Health on Thursday warned that as many as one in four Californians may be sickened this year by swine flu, officially known as the H1N1 strain. Officials are racing to prepare for what is expected to be a large increase in the number of people seeking flu shots because of growing public unease about the swine flu. Interviews with hospital officials this week indicate that medical facilities, doctor's offices and pharmacies still have a way to go to be ready, particularly if this year's flu season is severe.
June 12, 2009 | Thomas H. Maugh II
The World Health Organization on Thursday acknowledged what many health experts have been saying for weeks: The outbreak of the novel H1N1 virus is a pandemic. "The world is now at the start of the 2009 influenza pandemic," Dr. Margaret Chan, director-general of the WHO, said in a Geneva teleconference. "This virus is now unstoppable."
June 1, 2009 | Jill U. Adams
H1N1 swine flu may be fading from the news some, but the number of confirmed cases nationwide has been higher than is usual for seasonal flu in the month of May. What does that mean? Is this flu's ability to linger into the spring suggestive of how different a beast it is? And what does it portend for how the virus might infect Americans over the summer and come fall? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention publishes confirmed cases of the novel H1N1 swine flu virus each week.
May 20, 2009 | Times Staff Writers
The World Health Organization said Tuesday that it was taking longer than anticipated to prepare the seed stock needed to manufacture a vaccine for the H1N1 influenza virus. At a weeklong meeting in Geneva to discuss the outbreak of the so-called swine flu, the global health agency said the virus wasn't growing very quickly in the laboratory. That means vaccine makers won't be able to start production until mid-July at the earliest.
April 29, 2009 | Shari Roan and Karen Kaplan
Government health officials said Tuesday that they were "looking intently" at developing a swine flu vaccine. "It will be a matter of deciding not to make a vaccine rather than deciding to move forward," said Dr. Richard Besser, acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But undertaking work on a vaccine would be challenging. In a typical year, formulating the nation's flu vaccine is a tricky proposition. This is not a typical year.
April 27, 2009 | Karen Kaplan
Sometime in the last few years, as the world's attention was focused on the bird flu that killed more than 250 people in Asia, another bird flu strain infected pigs. It mixed with two kinds of flu that are endemic in swine and a fourth that originally came from people. The resulting concoction spread among pigs, then recently -- no one yet knows where or when -- started infecting humans.
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