Robert Webster, PhD

Old flu virus still threatens

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital scientists warn the flu virus that caused a pandemic in the 1950s remains a threat today. The risk is greatest for those under age 50; this group lacks immunity to the virus.

The warning follows results from a new study—the most complete analysis yet of H2N2 influenza A strains found in poultry and wild water birds. “This research suggests that H2N2 could re-emerge as a significant threat,” said Robert Webster, Ph.D., a member of the St. Jude Department of Infectious Diseases.

The good news from the study is that current antiviral drugs may be effective against this flu strain. An existing vaccine may also provide protection. The study appeared in an online edition of the Journal of Virology.

December 2, 2013

Read the news release