1918 flu survivors

1918 flu survivors share memories as research continues


Margaret Duchez, 94, did not have the flu, but remembers that in 1918 her grandmother locked the door so that she couldn't go outside during the pandemic. In her community near Cleveland, Ohio, people were afraid to go to church, walk in the street or let children play outside, she said. An entire family died around the corner from her.

"People were dying so fast in our parish, which was old St. Patrick's, they could not bury them fast enough," Duchez said.

A study in Nature last year showed survivors of the 1918 pandemic still have some immunity to that virus in the form of B cells, which are immune cells that produce antibodies.

Now, researchers are taking the knowledge from that study to work toward an antibody treatment for swine flu, the 2009 H1N1 virus that has sickened hundreds of people worldwide.

When a person gets infected with a virus, the body typically mounts an immune response to it. B cells produce antibodies, leaving the person at least partially immune to the disease, said Dr. James Crowe, professor at Vanderbilt University and lead study author.

Comment: Not many folk from 1918 remain! Both my Mom (b 1920) and Dad (b 1918 - d 1999) were born during this pandemic

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