Flu virus sweeps NZ

The best protection against an influenza strain which is reaching epidemic levels in New Zealand is the vaccine, but even that is not 100 per cent effective, a virologist warns, so Immunecare suggests that if you have the vaccination, boost your immune system with Lactoferrin Xtra too. This works by preventing viruses entering human cells, and so slowing their replication. A recent study by the National Institute of Health in Rome, Italy showed that Lactoferrin inhibited both H1N1 and H3N2 viruses.

The abstract of the study is here:

Bovine lactoferrin (bLf) is a multifunctional glycoprotein that plays an important role in innate immunity against infections, including influenza. Here we have dissected bLf into its C- and N-lobes and show that inhibition of influenza virus hemagglutination and cell infection is entirely attributable to the C-lobe and that all major virus subtypes, including H1N1 and H3N2, are inhibited. By far-western blotting and sequencing studies, we demonstrate that bLf C-lobe strongly binds to the HA(2) region of viral hemagglutinin, precisely the highly conserved region containing the fusion peptide. By molecular docking studies, three C-lobe fragments were identified which inhibited virus hemagglutination and infection at fentomolar concentration range. Besides contributing to explain the broad anti-influenza activity of bLf, our findings lay the foundations for exploiting bLf fragments as source of potential anti-influenza therapeutics.

This is the link to the study.

Viruses differ from all other infectious organisms in that they lack cells walls and individual metabolic activity. As such they cannot replicate outside the cells of their host. This makes Lactoferrin Xtra’s mode of action ideal for boosting the immune system to help deal with viral infections like influenza.

In New Zealand, the H3N2 strand of the influenza virus, which causes hallucinations and crippling nausea, has left about 12 people fighting for their lives.

Influenza viruses have two kinds of surface proteins: hemagglutinin and neuraminidase. There are different types of hemagglutinin (H) and neuraminidase (N) surface proteins. There are 16 types of H surface proteins and 9 types of N surface proteins (which are named H1, H2, N1, N2, etc.). An influenza virus always has one type of H surface protein, and one type of N surface protein.

Experts believe New Zealand could face an epidemic of H3N2 as big as swine flu.

A special isolation ward has been set up at Christchurch Hospital, and now public health officials are warning the virus is spreading north.

Canterbury Health virologist Lance Jennings said the severe strain of the flu was causing havoc in Canterbury.

“With H3N2 … we tend to see more severe outcomes in terms of hospital admissions, admissions to intensive care and death,” Dr Jennings said.

Waitemata and Counties Manukau have the highest number of flu sufferers nationwide, but there has yet to be a rise in flu patients hospitalised in those districts.

Dr Jennings said this year’s flu vaccine had the H3N2, H1N1 and influenza B virus in it.


“As far as we’re aware at the present time, the H3N2 virus, that’s affecting Canterbury at the moment, is similar to the antigens which are included in the current influenza vaccine.

“And similarly with the H1N1 and the B viruses largely in the North Island, as well as the H3N2, they’re similar to the antigens in the influenza vaccine.”

However, influenza vaccines were not perfect, he said, and protected only about 90 per cent of healthy adults. 

“That means among healthy [vaccinated] adults, at least 10 per cent will get infected with influenza.”

Other sources rate the effectiveness of the flu vaccine as between 50% and 70%.

Dr Jennings recommended those who do get the flu to stay home, rather than going into work and infecting colleagues.

Northern Hemisphere countries also had an outbreak of the virus during their latest winter, Dr Jennings said.

The epidemic is expected to spread across the country in coming weeks, expedited by the return to school after the winter break.

Vaccination is free until July 31 for pregnant women, people aged 65 or older, and anyone with ongoing medical conditions.

National Influenza Specialist Group spokeswoman Brenda Saunders said almost 960,000 doses of the flu vaccination had been distributed so far this season – 28,000 fewer than the same time last year.

Public Health Surveillance’s national report shows a steep increase in flu cases last week, almost double the number at the same time last year.

Humphrey said: “This year we are up [on flu cases] pretty much as high as we were during the swine flu epidemic. It’s a serious illness. It’s not something that should be ignored.”

What is H3N2
* H3N2 is an A-type virus.
* It descended from a virus that originated as a pandemic in Hong Kong in 1968.
* Canterbury Health virologist Dr Lance Jennings says H3N2 circulates through a population until the level of immunity has built up.
* Symptoms include hallucinations, crippling fevers and nausea.
* Once there is resilience in the population, H3N2 mutates so that it is more infective.