As the dropping temperatures continue to compromise the immune systems of people around the country, public health officials urge Americans to get vaccinated against influenza. More commonly known as the flu, it is one of the most infectious viral diseases in the world. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, anywhere from five to twenty percent of the entire U.S. population contracts the flu every year.
Common flu symptoms include high fevers, aching muscles, severe headaches, chills, dry cough, and fatigue. Although the flu itself is not normally a life-threatening disease, it significantly inhibits a person’s immune system. As a result, a person suffering from the flu is more susceptible to other diseases that also target the respiratory system.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for the flu, largely because the influenza virus mutates rapidly, seemingly always creating new strains. This rapid mutation is also the reason why people need to visit a trusted Lacey urgent care center, such as U.S. HealthWorks Medical Group, and get vaccinated every year. However, according to The Stanford Report, a new study has given hope to those seeking “universal” protection against the flu:
“Stanford researchers report promising steps toward the creation of a universal flu vaccine, one that could be produced more quickly and offer broader protection than the virus-specific inoculants available today.
The researchers detail their work in the current edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The team was led by James R. Swartz, a professor of chemical engineering and of bioengineering
Swartz and his colleagues base their new vaccine approach on the understanding that, whereas the head of the flu virus varies from year to year, the protein stem remains more constant over time.
Theoretically, a vaccine based on the stem should be more broadly protective against different strains of flu, and perhaps offer universal protection. Moreover, because the stem remains relatively constant from year to year, once our immune systems produces antibodies against that antigen, multi-season protection might be possible.”
As the Stanford researchers continue to learn more about the influenza virus, everyone around the world can only hope that the attempt to create a universal flu vaccine is successful. For now, people should realize that the current flu vaccine is still an effective way to prevent the flu. With that in mind, people who have yet to get immunized against the disease this year should visit a reputable Lacey walk in clinic to get vaccinated.
(Article Excerpt and Image from Stanford researchers take a step toward developing a ‘universal’ flu vaccine, Stanford Report, December 20, 2013)