Flu Shot May Help Fight Off Bird Flu: Study

Vaccinated patients more likely to have immune response to deadly H5N1 virus
By Colleen Barry,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 27, 2007 8:02 AM CST
Flu shot   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – A regular flu shot may offer at least some protection against the bird flu, a new study finds. Researchers tested the blood of 42 volunteers who'd recently gotten flu vaccines, exposing it to the deadly H5N1 avian flu, and found that in some of them, the immune system recognized the threat and responded with appropriate antibodies, Reuters reports.

This may help explain why the elderly are less likely to catch bird flu where it breaks out. "Older people, although not previously exposed to H5N1 subtype, may have gained protective immunity by previous infections sustained by circulating influenza virus strains," write the study's authors. The flu vaccine also increased the likelihood that another type of immune cell would fight the virus.