If we were to tell you that your year of birth determines which flu strain you will fall victim to, you will probably think of us as some gypsy fortune tellers.
Traditionally, birth years are used in astrology to predict a person’s fate. For example, according to the Chinese Lunar Calendar, those born in 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017, and 2029 are Roosters and are trustworthy, with a strong sense of timekeeping and responsibility at work.
But even the Chinese Lunar Calendar can’t tell you what we are going to.
Your birth year can predict the strain of flu you will catch later in life. This is not an astrological/astronomical prediction.
It is a scientific discovery.
A study carried out at the University of California and published in the Science has discovered that the influenza strains which we encounter as an infant helps us build immunity against these strains. These strains then become vulnerable at the hands of immune cells upon future encounters.
The influenza causing virus “influenza A” can largely be stratified into two categories.
‘Group one’ includes H1, H2 and H5 while ‘group two’ includes H3 and H7 influenza causing strains.
Tracing the history of flu epidemics, researchers found that people who were born before year 1968 had built immunity against group one viruses. On the contrary, people born after year 1968 were infected with group two viruses earlier in their lives which led them to build immunity against group two viruses.
This can help doctors offer relevant vaccinations to people of different age groups. But, things got complicated when researchers found that in last several years, Americans were prone to getting infected from strains belonging to both groups.
The research, hence, provides a deep insight into flu infections, however, no definite statement can be made regarding flu infections.