Immunity and Influenza

Science  22 Dec 2006:
Vol. 314, Issue 5807, pp. 1837i
DOI: 10.1126/science.314.5807.1837i

Seasonal influenza exhibits high morbidity and mortality worldwide, so understanding its phylogenetics and dynamics is important. Despite its high mutation rate, there is limited observed diversity of influenza, perhaps because of generalized strain-transcendent immunity, but there is no evidence for generalized immunity in humans. However, there is evidence of antigenic clusters that sweep through the global human community between successive seasons. Koelle et al. (p. 1898; see the Perspective by van Nimwegen) introduce a phylodynamic model that allows for differences between influenza's genetic and antigenic properties and show that influenza's characteristic phylogeny can arise from cluster-specific immunity alone.

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