Finding highlights the need for kids to be vaccinated against the disease, experts say
FRIDAY, Oct. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Underscoring the threat that the H1N1 swine flu poses to children, U.S. health officials said Friday that 76 children have died from the disease since it appeared in April, including 19 in the past week alone.
Over the last three years, deaths among children from the regular seasonal flu ranged from 46 to 88, Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said during an afternoon press conference.
"So we have already had 76 children dying from the 2009 H1N1 virus, and it's only the beginning of October," she said. "We are seeing more illness, more hospitalizations and more deaths each week from the flu. Virtually all the virus circulating right now is the H1N1 2009 virus."
About 30 percent of the children who died had chronic medical conditions, such as asthma, cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy, Schuchat said.
The H1N1 flu is now widespread in 37 states, up from 27 states last week, Schuchat said. And the flu has returned to areas hard hit by the disease last spring, she noted.
Responding to a report Thursday in The New York Times that cities -- such as Boston, New York City and Philadelphia -- hit hard by the swine flu in the spring are seeing less flu now, Schuchat said it's too early to tell if that will be the case as the H1N1 flu continues to spread.
Schuchat said it's also too early to say what the regular seasonal flu might be like this fall and winter. The season for seasonal flu is usually December through May. But a pandemic flu such as the H1N1 swine flu -- the first pandemic in 40 years -- has no season and has been circulating since April, she said.
"We still think the vast majority of people in a given community are vulnerable or susceptible
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