Swine Flu Related to 1918 Strain

By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 13, 2009 3:36 PM CDT
A child wears a mask as a precaution against swine flu outside a hospital in Buenos Aires.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – The H1N1 virus can more easily infect the lungs than the common seasonal flu, a new study finds, making it more likely to cause pneumonia. What’s more, the present virus bears troubling resemblance to the 1918 strain that killed more than 40 million people worldwide. The study also shows that people who survived the 1918 pandemic have an antibody response to H1N1, indicating that their body "remembered" it, MSNBC reports.

The ability of the virus to infect the lungs is another telltale sign that it is linked to the earlier strain. “Our findings are a reminder that swine-origin influenza viruses have not yet garnered a place in history, but may still do so, as the pandemic caused by these viruses has the potential to produce a significant impact on human health and the global economy,” the researchers write.