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Almost 6 Million U.S. Cases of Swine Flu in First Few Months
Date:10/29/2009

CDC says H1N1 may be tied to 21,000 hospitalizations during that time

THURSDAY, Oct. 29 (HealthDay News) -- Up to 5.7 million cases of H1N1 swine flu hit the United States between April and July, according to a new estimate from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

That number came from a model that estimated that for every confirmed case of H1N1 flu there were 79 unreported cases, according to a report published Thursday in the CDC journal Emerging Infectious Diseases.

Speaking at an afternoon teleconference on Thursday, Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, explained why the CDC uses such models to get an idea of the actual number of H1N1 flu cases.

"Not every case will result in a person seeking medical care," she noted. "Not every person who seeks medical care will be tested for flu. Not every person tested for flu will have a result that is positive. Not every positive result will get reported. So you can imagine that what we count -- whether it's cases or hospitalizations or deaths -- will be underestimates of the full burden."

The report estimates that there were between 1.8 million and 5.7 million cases of flu, as well as 9,000 to 21,000 hospitalizations and about 800 deaths related to the pandemic flu.

There has been no current update of these numbers since July, Schuchat said. "But we do believe many millions of people have already contracted this virus here in the U.S. And by now we have had well over 20,000 hospitalizations," she noted.

Schuchat also cautioned that the 79-to-1 multiplier used in the report is only a best guess and should be taken with "a grain of salt."

She also had some news on the H1N1 vaccine front, noting that the supply of vaccine is changing day by day. As of Thursday there were 24.8 million doses available, Schuchat said, 1.6 million doses more than yesterday.<
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