Posted by: kenwbudd | December 11, 2009

H1N1: 10,000 Deaths in US from Swine Flu Pandemic

Swine flu has already infected 50 million Americans, killing 10,000, most of them children and younger adults, federal officials reported Thursday.

The new estimates suggest that the flu, also known as H1N1, has spread through 15% of the U.S. population since it was first identified in April. As of Nov. 17, 200,000 people have been hospitalised, says Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s about the same number of people hospitalised during the entire flu season, which usually lasts until May.

At least 7,500 adults 18 to 64 and 1,000 children younger than 18 have died of the disease, Frieden said. In a typical flu season, roughly 80 children die.

“Many times more children and younger adults, unfortunately, have been hospitalised or killed by H1N1 influenza than occurs during a usual flu season,” Frieden says.

The analysis marks the government’s latest assessment of the H1N1 epidemic. The virus has upended expectations of flu by targeting the young rather than the old. In a typical year, 95% of deaths are in people 65 and older; so far, 95% of deaths have been in people younger than 65.

William Schaffner, a flu expert at Vanderbilt University, says the new estimates reinforce the message that “this isn’t an infection to be trifled with or blown off.”

Although flu seems to be waning — with just 25 states now reporting widespread activity, down from 48 little more than a month ago — the virus remains highly infectious and may come roaring back, Schaffner says.


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