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What is antigenic drift?

Anthony L. Komaroff, MD
Internal Medicine
Each time a flu virus reproduces, its genes mutate. This happens again and again, until the surface of the virus at large in the community looks so different from the original virus that it can infect the same population all over again. By significantly changing its appearance, the new strain of virus is able to sneak past the immune system's surveillance mechanisms. This gradual process is called antigenic drift.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.