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Another Report Finds Swine Flu Targeting the Young
Date:8/27/2009

But health experts emphasize that most infections are relatively benign

THURSDAY, Aug. 27 (HealthDay News) -- As U.S. health officials brace for the expected return of the H1N1 swine flu this fall, much of the focus has been on children and young adults, who seem particularly vulnerable to the newly identified virus.

A federal report released Thursday suggests that focus might be justified. It found that during the period April through July, when swine flu first surfaced in the United States, infection rates in Chicago were highest among children and young adults, especially children 5 to 14 years old who had rates 14 times higher than those seen in adults 60 and older.

The report also found that blacks and Hispanics are somewhat more prone to infection than whites.

The findings reinforce the idea that H1N1 swine flu prevention efforts should target children and young adults. And in keeping with recommendations from the U.S. Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, younger Americans should be among the first groups inoculated when the swine flu vaccine becomes available this fall, said the study authors, from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But health experts said it's important to remember that the swine flu continues to cause only minor illness in most people, including children, and the recovery is fairly quick.

"This is a virus that has consistently, primarily affected young children, teenagers and young adults -- and that has been documented in its course throughout the pandemic, so there's no surprise there," said Dr. Pascal James Imperato, dean of the School of Public Health at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in New York City. "We also know that older adults are less affected by this virus because they have been exposed in the past to ancestral cousins of this H1N1 swine flu virus, and therefore they have some carry-over immunity and protection.

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