Blood plasma could prevent swine flu deaths

A recent Chinese study has found that swine flu deaths may be preventable by giving severely ill victims blood plasma from patients, which contains antibodies against the virus, who have recovered from the disease.

According to the small study, this transfusion "vaccine" lead to a halving of the death rate among hospital patients in intensive care due to swine flu complications, the Press Association reports.

The study followed 93 swine flu patients who were seriously ill and needed intensive care in Hong Kong hospitals between September 2009 and June 2010. Twenty of the patients agreed to receive a 500 milliliter transfusion of plasma donated by patients who had fought off the H1N1 virus. The 73 who declined this treatment were the control group.

Twenty percent of the treated group died, while 55 percent of the control patients lost their lives, according to the Press Association. None of the patients who were treated had any adverse reactions to report.

"This study has demonstrated that convalescent plasma treatment may have a place in the treatment of patients with severe H1N1 2009 infection," the report said, the Press Association reports.

In the United Kingdom, 112 people have died from the influenza virus since last October and 95 of them were infected with the pandemic H1N1 swine flu strain. Worldwide, the swine flu has been tied to over 13,000 deaths since it emerged in April 2009.

While most who are infected suffer only mild symptoms before recovery, in some cases the virus leads to life-threatening conditions like kidney failure or pneumonia.