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Fever Roundup

January 5, 2007

Fevers may be something to celebrate, rather than suppress.


A reason to feed fevers. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

A high fever can be dangerous, especially to small children. But two studies suggest that a moderate fever can help the body fight off infections. Researchers at Roswell Park Cancer institute in Buffalo, NY, found that mice kept at warm temperatures had more lymphocytes pass into their lymph nodes. Lymphocytes fight bacteria and other invading microbes; lymph nodes are the staging area for their battle.

In related news, Duke scientists report that research on roundworms is providing clues into other ways fever helps the immune system. In both people and worms, heat triggers genes that produce compounds that repel a broad array of germs. The team’s looking at ways to stimulate this activity without heat, as a way to help patients with weak immune systems.

I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.