Another recent piece of research reported in New Scientist is about the bacteria Haemophilus influenzae, or H. flu. This was wrongly named – it is a secondary inflection involved with flu, but not the cause of it. However, it is often involved in chronic lung problems such as bronchitis and emphysema, and affects more than 300 million people worldwide (perhaps including me at times). An American scientist has been collecting samples of H. flu. since 1994, and has found that there are tremendous differences between different strains of the bacteria – their genes can differ by as much as 20%. Some strains persist in the airways, while some strains are easily cleared, but it seems that a new strain comes round nearly every month, causing the symptoms to break out again. It has generally never been treatable by antibiotics, so researchers are trying to develop a vaccine for it, but now, with more sophisticated understanding of how the bacteria operates, and more information about its genetic makeup.