An increase in cases of narcolepsy in China has been linked to the outbreak of swine flu during 2009-10, prompting scientists to find a ‘cure’ for the condition.
The team of researchers has discovered a flu vaccine could prevent the condition, cases of which tripled in China during 2009.
Research into the sudden increase in narcolepsy came after the European Medical Agency advised that the widely used Pandmrix flu vaccine should be banned because of its links with the condition.
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Dr Emmanuel Mignot, from the Stanford Center for Sleep Sciences and Medicine in California was also involved in the study and said: “Our paper shows that to be sick with the flu can trigger narcolepsy, so maybe regular flu vaccines (other than Pandmrix) can protect against it.”
As part of the study the researchers looked at 154 new cases of the sleep disorder that came after the outbreak of swine flu.
“Our findings show a seasonal variation in narcolepsy onset in a Chinese population, occurring most frequently in late spring and early summer,” said Dr. Fang Han from the Beijing University People's Hospital.
He added that although the findings do not conclusively link flu and narcolepsy, there is a strong correlation between the two.
The results of the study have been published in the Annuals of Neurology journal.