H1N1 more severe in young adults say doctors

By Courtney Lane - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - email

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - Many in their 20's and younger think they're invincible - in the prime of their life. But, doctors say that youth is actually a disadvantage when it comes to H1N1.

"They're more susceptible to getting the disease and, when they get it, they get it in a more severe fashion," said Dr. Jeffrey Levin, with the UT Health Science Center.

According to the CDC, the highest rate of infection occurred in those aged five to 24 years old. On the other hand, those 65 and older are far less likely to develop this new virus.

"The reason for that is that they have had a longer period of experience in their lifetime to be exposed to a range of flu like viruses where their bodies may have built up some antibodies to some things on this new virus that they recognize," said Levin.

To younger adults, this may come as a surprise that their bodies aren't as well prepared to fight off this new strand causing the virus to be more severe in younger people.

Levin says the H1N1 vaccine is due out mid October.

"Hospitals like our own are already in that planning process so that will be available to these target groups," said Levin.

Those groups who should be first in line for the vaccine are pregnant women, those who care for infants, health and emergency personnel, those six months to 24 years old, and any adult with underlying medical conditions. For instance, it's highly recommended for anyone with severe asthma or cystic fibrosis and pregnant women to get the two injections, come October.

As a side note, KLTV 7's Med Team Dr. Ed Dominguez, says the swine flu outbreak in 1976 may be another reason some seniors have more immunity.

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