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H1N1 Often Hit the Young and Healthy
Date:5/5/2010

WHO report, issued a year after outbreak began, finds this flu had new targets

WEDNESDAY, May 5 (HealthDay News) -- A year after the H1N1 flu first appeared, the World Health Organization has issued perhaps the most comprehensive report on the pandemic's activity to date.

"Here's the definitive reference that shows in black-and-white what many people have said in meetings and talked about," said Dr. John Treanor, a professor of medicine and of microbiology and immunology at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York.

The H1N1 flu disproportionately affected children and young adults, not the older adults normally taken by the traditional flu, states the report, which appears in the May 6 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

The review offers few new insights, said Dr. Len Horovitz, a pulmonary specialist with Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, except "that pregnant women were more at risk in the second and third trimesters and the finding that obesity and morbid obesity [were also risk factors]. Obesity is something that has not been associated with influenza deaths before."

The novel virus first appeared in Mexico in the spring of 2009. It has since spread around the globe resulting in "the first influenza pandemic since 1968 with circulation outside the usual influenza season in the Northern Hemisphere," the report's authors said.

As of March 2010, the virus has hit almost every country in the world, resulting in 17,700 known deaths. By February of this year, some 59 million people in the United States were hit with the bug, 265,000 of who were hospitalized and 12,000 of whom died, the article stated.

Fortunately, most of the illness tied to infection with H1N1 has remained relatively mild, comparatively speaking.

The overall infection rate is estimated at 11 percent and mortality of those infected at 0.5 percent.

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