WebXtra: Why H1N1 flu is so scary compared to seasonal flu

By Molly Reuter - bio | email

EAST TEXAS (KLTV) - Thousands of people in the United States die from the flu every year, around 36,000 in the U.S. and more than 250,000 world wide.  So, what are the differences between the seasonal flu and H1N1, and what are the similarities?

KLTV 7 Med Team Doctor Ed Dominguez says the United States saw a form of the H1N1 human virus this last flu season.  It's also been seen in previous years, so there is a vaccine for it.  That lowers the number of people susceptible to the virus.  The problem with the new strain, is just that.  It's never been seen before.

"What worries people this time is that there is no vaccine against this strain, and we have no pre-existing immunity, so virtually everybody is susceptible to this virus," said Dr. Ed.  "Therefore, we don't know what the upper mortality of it could be.  We know what it is in seasonal influenza because seasonal influenza by definition is seasonal and there is some pre-existing immunity, but there is no pre-existing immunity to the swine related virus."  Dr. Ed says a vaccination for the new H1N1 virus could be ready in a matter of weeks, but it will be months before its ready to be distributed.

Dr. Ed also says he hopes the new strain will get the message out about the value of influenza vaccinations because many of the deaths that do occur during the regular flu season can be prevented.

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