Secondary response

After you’ve been exposed to a pathogen, antigen specific memory B Cells persist. If the pathogen reappears, they quickly pump out antibodies against that pathogen.

I have the impression that, when this happens, you can feel bushed. I’m not sure if that impression is correct, but it’s based on various times that I’ve been hanging around sick kids, doing things for them, without actually catching the flu or stomach bug they have. When I don’t catch it, seems likely it’s one that I’ve had before.

Does anyone know if there really is such a response?

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25 Responses to Secondary response

  1. Hi West, Isn’t that how vaccinations work?You give an attenuated form of pathogen so antibodies form meaning that shall they catch the diseases the immune system wipes it out without having to do anything.Just a thought don’t know if it helps or is right

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. Unlikely, apparently. Simon Wessely looked at medical records after a flu episode in general practice patients, and found no increase in complaints of fatigue.

  3. RCB says:

    Kids are exhausting?

  4. JayMan says:

    Just a few days ago I had a response that makes me wonder the exact same thing.

  5. mdfinfer says:

    The quick answer is I doubt there is such a response.

    In most cases, preformed antibodies take care of a pathogen that you have either been previously exposed to or been vaccinated against. In the occasional case in which antibody levels have declined to a point to which infection is possible, you will get sick, but you will develop an attenuated form of the disease. If you feel sick, it is probably because you are. This also happens when the influenza vaccine is not a perfect match to whatever strain is circulating in that year. Vaccinated patients will tend to have a mild form of the disease. The symptoms have nothing to do, per se, with the antibody response to the pathogen. They are a reflection of the disease process. The antibody response is a result of the disease, not a cause of the symptoms.

    • gcochran9 says:

      Interesting, because when I get a shot with a killed virus, I feel crappy for an afternoon.

      • mdfinfer says:

        It takes about four weeks for antibodies to be produced after a vaccination. If you feel sick for a short time after a vaccination, it is either a mild reaction to a vaccine or a psychological effect.

        • Michael Daxhammer says:

          Really? Had my Tdap-IPV last summer in July. Next day I had classic symptoms of a viral flu: Fatigue, headache, chills, joint and muscle pain. Disappeard alltogether the next morning. I remember that I barely could watch the Tour de France on the couch this day. And I really wanted to see those crazy doped beanpoles Don’t think my pro-vaxx ideology got me some psycho problems or spontaneous summer flu that I get rid off within 24 hours.

      • Temples and Ashes says:

        I had an unpleasant bad reaction to the yellow fever vaccine. I felt sick, with body aches and fatigue for a few days after getting the shot. I’ve been told by nurses administering the vaccine that this sort of reaction is common.

      • Tech_Noir says:

        Probably due to your innate immune response (inflammation) which will be immediate–separate from the antibodies that will take a few weeks to appear.

        • Wasn’t that the original vaccine– infecting one with cow pox so one doesn’t get smallpox? (And it had something to do with noticing that milkmaids and farmers didn’t generally get smallpox.)

          I worked preschool for three years, where I got sick monthly, but there were a few times I seemed to get a milder strain of the current illness, or I was able to fight it off, albeit feeling crappy in the meantime. (Once everyone in my room got foot-and-mouth, including my coworker, save for me and one of the kids. It was pretty grisly.)

      • CA immunologist says:

        An effective antibody response opsonizes the pathogen essentially instantaneously. That’s the keyword though– “effective.” You can make antibodies to many viruses that are extremely polymorphic out in the wild. Flu antibodies bind to epitopes that vary dramatically between strains. Your pre-existing antibodies against one strain could provide total, some or no protection against another strain depending on how different the epitope the antibody targets is. Similarly with HIV, everybody who is infected makes antibodies, but only a tiny handful of patients make antibodies good enough to neutralize most strains, which is why we have had antibody based diagnostics for HIV for 30 years but there’s still no vaccine.

        I have hypothesized that sometimes when you feel yourself in the early stages of a cold that resolves itself in a day it could be because of a pre-existing antibody response, or perhaps a T cell response, which needs to boot back up and could explain why you feel crummy for a day. As far as I’m aware though there is no research on this topic, which I have also been intensely curious about. Common cold T cell immunology is a field that basically doesn’t exist. Flu has a lot of vaccinology work that’s been done and T cell reagents do exist. However there’s little grant money in answering those kinds of curiosity driven questions that would require super expensive prospective studies and yield little actionable information. There was a paper a couple years ago about CD70-CD27 interactions allowing people to fight off viruses that were similar to, but slightly different from, viruses they’d had before. Long story short, I buy that people get exposures and immune responses to bugs related to those they’ve had before all the time, and I’d buy that when that happens you feel crummy but don’t get totally sick. Probably doesn’t bappen if you have a neutralizing antibody against the bug though, then it probably wouldn’t replicate at all and wouldn’t register to your central nervous system.

  6. pyrrhus says:

    I have had many such experiences, very short lived, because of exposure to hundreds of children in my classes. I thought maybe I caught the disease, but fought it off over 12 hours or so.Given that this happened dozens of times, that may be improbable…. This theory seems to fit the facts better.

  7. Former Water God of Bonaire says:

    Only concerning myself, and only anecdotally- just this previous Saturday in St. Thomas, following an evening of heavy mosquito attack, I developed a slight nausea then later a slight fever that kept me in bed from afternoon to Sunday morning. This was nothing new though. I work in the Caribbean region and have had many episodes like this in the past five or so years with the first affliction coinciding with a dengue outbreak in the ABC islands where I was at the time, and with the more recent subsequent afflictions lesser severe than the original onsets. Symptoms follow description of mild to moderate Dengue and Chikunguya, now I wonder if West Nile Virus could be in the mix (hypothetically) as well.

    • another fred says:

      I had something like that 2 years ago down on the Gulf Coast. Several bites and then chills and severe arthritis pain that lasted a few weeks – finally had to go get cortisone in my shoulders to get over it.

      I figure I got some bug not known to science. Chikungunya had not been found in the northern Gulf Coast at that time, but I figure that’s a possibility.

  8. Brendan says:

    I’ve wondered same in same circumstances.

    The strongest tell is if I nap in this circumstance I nap hard – lights out coma. Unusual for me.

  9. says:

    “Stress, Energy, and Immunity”

    “””In the face of infection, calories must be made available for the increased energetic demands of the immune system. Sick animals and humans provide such calories with a dramatic decrease in activity caused by increased fatigue and decreased interest in pleasurable pursuits such as food, socializing, and sex (Larson & Dunn, 2001).”””

    “Feeding Our Immune System: Impact on Metabolism”

    “””The purpose of this review is to provide an update on how nutrients-derived factors (mostly focusing on fatty acids and glucose) impact the innate and acquired immune systems, including the gut immune system and its associated bacterial flora. We will try to show the reader how the highly energy-demanding immune cells use glucose as a main source of fuel in a way similar to that of insulin-responsive adipose tissue and how Toll-like receptors (TLRs) of the innate immune system, which are found on immune cells, intestinal cells, and adipocytes, are presently viewed as essential actors in the complex balance ensuring bodily immune and metabolic health.”””

  10. Maciano says:

    I’m stunned you write about this, because I have had this experience quite a bit lately.

    I rarely get sick, like the flu, but one day per year, on average, I’m slightly under the weather. The pattern is always the same: first tired, then cloud-brain and a reddish (non-itching) rash. I never understood the cause, thought it was some sort allergy. Since I only have it about once a year (and briefly) I don’t pay much attention

    However, then I became a father. My son (20 months) catches all sorts of things from daycare. I’ve now had this “allergy” nearly everytime he catches something. I deduced from this it must be my immune system fighting an old foe.

  11. Tech_Noir says:

    I’ve had similar experiences. IMO it is likely a low grade infection–the pathogen multiples at a low level and triggers an innate response–inflammation, maybe a little fever–until enough neutralizing antibody is pumped out to clear. I haven’t searched the literature but it wouldn’t surprise me if this hasn’t been completely worked out–it’d be a real pain. You’d have to do a clinical trial where you enroll people are are sick then also their close contacts, take multiple blood samples from them over time, etc. w/no real clear upside.

  12. MEH 0910 says:

    OT: “Here’s how an otherwise humdrum virus sparks celiac disease”

    “Seemingly innocuous virus can trigger celiac disease”

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