LOS ANGELES, Nov. 13 (Xinhua) -- The first-ever type of influenza virus that people encountered partly determines the flu strains they would be immune to in their whole life, according to scientists with U.S. universities.
The findings were published in the journal Science on Nov. 10, which was discovered by researchers from University of California, Los Angeles and University of Arizona in Tucson.
The study collected data from over 1,400 people, mostly in Asia and the Middle East, who had been infected at any point in their lives with two bird flu strains, H5N1 and H7N9.
The researchers explained that the first time a person's immune system encounters a flu virus, it makes antiboies targeting the virus. Among 18 strains of flu that they studied, only two versions of viral proteins were found.
"Our findings show clearly that this childhood imprinting gives strong protection against severe infection or death from two major strains of bird flu," said James Lloyd-Smith, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at UCLA and a co-author of the study, as quoted by Fox News.
Some experts commented the research is a real step forward for the public health community and those tasked with protecting the population from flu outbreaks.