Blood plasma transfusions could be an effective form of second-line defense.
Washington DC (UPI) Aug 30, 2006
The secret to curing those infected with avian influenza may lie in the blood of those who have survived the disease, new research shows. According to a study published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, antibodies from those who have survived bird flu could be used in blood plasma transfusions to help those trying to fight the disease.
Blood plasma transfusions were used by doctors during the 1918 Spanish influenza pandemic, and it is thought that the same technique could be used to supplement the use of vaccines or Tamiflu and other anti-virals in the event of an avian-influenza pandemic.
U.S. military and biotech researchers examined papers on blood plasma transfusions written between 1918 and 1925 and found that influenza-influenced pneumonia sufferers who were given blood plasma transfusions were 21 percent more likely to survive than those who were not. That figure jumped to 41 percent if the transfusion was administered in the first three days of infection.
Sixteen percent of those given the transfusions died, compared with 37 percent of those who were not.
It is not suggested that the use of blood plasma transfusions could replace anti-viral medication; in developing countries, however, where access to vaccines and anti-virals is limited, blood plasma transfusions could be an effective form of second-line defense.