Healthy adults prone to H1N1

Immune system could overreact to infection causing reaction in healthy adults


So, is your immunity acting against you in this case? Well, it seems that way, if one assesses the age group of persons, who have succumbed to the influenza in the City.
If you went by the old belief that ‘a person is the strongest in his youth’, it is rather ironic to note that barring a few in their thirties and forties with pre-existing illnesses, most of the deceased were in their twenties. And worse, most of them were quite healthy a week before the viral attack.

Children and senior citizens — considered to be in the ‘high risk group’ and those more susceptible to contract the virus — have instead been the least affected here.

This scenario looks similar to that of 1918 Flu Pandemic or the Spanish flu. At that time, it was reported that people who succumbed to the flu were mainly healthy adults with a strong immune system compared to children or the aged persons.

As a result, experts concluded that the reason for deaths to be ‘Cytokine storm’, where the immune system overacts to the infection causing adverse reaction among healthy adults.

Former Unicef Programme Officer Dr M Seenappa said that the immune system ‘overreacts’ producing large quantities of T-cells and cytokines, which rush to the infected lung tissues and cause inflammation and damage the lungs among young and healthy adults.

“The inflammation causes secretion of body fluids which further causes less air space in the lungs resulting in respiratory distress,” he said.

Steroid used in US

There have been reports that many doctors in the United States use steroid like Prednisolone to regulate the immunity in a person and to decrease inflammation so that the condition of the patient improves.

According to Narayana Hrudayalaya’s Consultant Pulmonologist Dr Ranganath, there is no concrete evidence in using steroids.

“Cytokine storm can be one of the reasons for acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) among healthy adults. However, ARDS occurs among persons with low immunity and the mortality rate is high. As a result, these patients succumb due to associated infections,” he said.

However, Head of Department Neuro-Virology, Nimhans, Dr V Ravi did not commit to the theory of Cytokine storm. “I cannot comment further on the situation, as certain tests and investigations have to be conducted to prove the cause for death,” he said.
Now, the question arises, whether immunity needs to be strengthened owning to the number of Homeopathy and Ayurvedic doctors prescribing various medicines to boost one’s immune system. It is therefore essential that doctors handling H1N1 Influenza cases further investigate on this issue.

21 tested positive for H1N1 flu

Twenty-one cases tested positive for H1N1 influenza in the State on Wednesday. Till date 1,709 samples have been tested, out of which 388 have been positive and 20 have succumbed to the infection in the State. 

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