Medical Definition of Antigenic drift

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Antigenic drift: A mechanism for variation by viruses that involves the accumulation of mutations within the antibody-binding sites so that the resulting viruses cannot be inhibited well by antibodies against previous strains making it easier for them to spread throughout a partially immune population. Antigenic drift occurs in both influenza A and influenza B viruses.

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Reviewed on 12/21/2018

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