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Questions and concerns regarding the (H1N1) virus and Multiple Sclerosis

Posted Nov 17 2009 10:20pm

With the imminent arrival of flu season, questions and concerns regarding infection with the novel influenza A (H1N1) virus – also known as swine flu – are beginning to peak. In this edition of eMS News, Dr. John Corboy, co-medical director of the Rocky Mountain MS Center at Anschutz Medical Campus, clears up some questions regarding H1N1.


For people with MS, studies on the yearly flu vaccine have found that it does not cause exacerbations, which was previously a concern. In 1993, a study headed by Dr. Aaron Miller of the National MS Society found that among the 104 study participants there was no difference in the number of exacerbations experienced by those who received the flu vaccine and those on placebo. Other studies and extensive data collection also have consistently negated the concern. Therefore, MS specialty doctors and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) encourage MS patients to get the usual flu vaccine.


Generally, vaccines are made from viruses or bacteria that are inactivated (killed) or live but attenuated (weakened). The yearly flu shot is an example of an inactivated virus vaccine. Although there also exists an effective live, attenuated vaccine (taken by mouth), the Rocky Mountain MS Center and the National MS Society have typically suggested use of the inactivated flu shot vaccine.


H1N1: Risk and vaccine
It has been deemed that people with MS are not at higher risk of contracting H1N1 – like the seasonal flu, all people can contract the novel flu. However, because the flu can cause serious complications for MS patients, especially for those with limited mobility issues and those living in settings such as nursing homes – the H1N1 vaccine is advisable for all people with MS. (Cont. HERE)

Source: Rocky Mountain MS Center

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