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Old blood scores against new pig-brewed flu

It looks as though older people have been around long enough to have been exposed to influenza viruses at least somewhat similar to the H1N1 strain that has infected more than 27,000 and killed over a hundred so far this year -- and that threatens to return with a vengeance this fall. Antibodies providing at least some protection against the new strain were detected in about one-third of blood samples taken from U.S. residents age 65 or over - as opposed to a mere 6% to 9% of those ages 18-64 - for a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey published in the CDC's weekly report, MMWR Weekly, on May 22. By and large, vaccinating for the current, seasonal strain of influenza doesn't generate such cross-protection, so that wouldn't explain seniors' heightened readiness to do battle with the pig-brewed bug.

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