Image is from BBC.com
If someone told you your risk of flu infection depends on when or where you are born, your first thought might be that of, “What a ridiculous statement.”
You may wonder what that person is thinking. The flu is the flu every year, no matter what name medicine decides to put into it the next year. This is a myth, because there are differing types of strains of flu evolving throughout the years.
High Risk Medical Conditions
Remember, the flu is a respiratory virus (not bacteria.) Because the flu is a respiratory illness, it naturally attacks the lungs.
If the lungs are not fully developed or you present a chronic respiratory health problem as listed below, your lungs are already in a weakened state.
The flu virus attacks your body, specifically your lungs and they are not up for the fight. You are at a higher risk for developing a secondary infection like pneumonia or bronchitis.
Born Where, Before or After 1968
Researchers discovered that your risk of flu infection is lower if you were born before 1968. You were less susceptible to the flu than those born after 1968 and the strains presented at that time.
Two flu strains are more prevalent in Asia, and the Middle East called the H5N1 and H7N9 or Bird Flu. The research found that if you contracted this strain as a child; you are now immune from any virus from animals such as the Bird Flu in future years.
The year 1968, seemed to be the dividing line for flu virus samplings. For example, the Hong Kong flu was replaced by other influenza viruses from different groups of viruses in the years preceding 1968.
The H7N9 virus strain affects the senior populace more readily. This flu strain is similar to the Hong Kong Flu. Those born before 1968 were never exposed to this virus as children.
Seniors were exposed to flu strains before the new flu strains after 1968 started appearing. The difficulty in coming to grips with this research is, if you were exposed to your first flu infection as a child this would determine which strains you would be immune to as you age.
Coming in contact with either one of the two types of Bird Flu when you were a child protects you in the future.
Three High Risk Individuals
There a couple of groups of people who present a higher risk for contracting the flu than other individuals. These individuals are age sensitive to being high risk for contracting the influenza virus.
- Infants and younger children
- The senior populace
- Those people who have a depress immunity
Infants and young children do not have a fully developed immunity. Thus, infants and young children are in a high risk group for contracting flu signs and symptoms and secondary infections stemming from the flu.
The senior populace, depending upon any chronic health conditions, may or may not be at high risk of the flu infection, in addition to being born before 1968 when some of the viral strains were non existent.
- Congestive Heart Failure
- Circulatory Deficits
- Nutritional Deficits due to not eating balanced meals
Medical Conditions Impact Flu Risks
People who have a depressed immunity creates in their body a more difficult time fighting off secondary infections stemming from the flu, such as, but not limited to,
- Cancer patients receiving chemotherapy or radiation
- Cystic Fibrosis
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Congestive Pulmonary Obstructive Disease or COPD
Where you were born and when you were born determines your risk level for Influenza.