Thursday, November 12, 2009

Seniors are at some risk from H1N1

The AARP has an interesting article about older Americans and H1N1, by Katharine Greider, link here. The article says that older adults, especially those born before 1950, may well indeed have some antibodies to H1N1 antigen proteins, but if they get a symptomatic infection, they may, as with a study in California, be more likely to die. This report was carried in the National Library of Medicine and may be found here.

On site H1N1 tests produce false negatives in about 1/3 of cases, and over 20% of severe cases never received antiviral medication.

Anecdotally, it does not seem that seniors are taking any undue risk in going to places where younger adults congregate, such as riding on subways or even going to discos. It does not seem that “social distancing” is particularly necessary.

But seniors should not feel complacent just because so much public attention has been placed on H1N1 in the young. It's true that the 1918 Spanish flu disproportionately attacked the young, but that could partly be because of crowding of people in the military. "Social distancing" public health rules were very strict then.

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