Also on Tuesday, a U.S. health official said that, while the majority of people hospitalized with the H1N1 swine flu have chronic medical conditions, many were healthy before coming down with the disease.
More than half of hospitalized adults had conditions such as asthma, chronic lung diseases, heart disease or immune system disorders, Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said during a press conference.
But, she added, "This virus can be serious even in people with no underlying conditions."
Among adults hospitalized with the H1N1 swine flu, 45 percent did not have a pre-existing medical problem and 6 percent were pregnant, Schuchat said. Among hospitalized children, 5.8 percent had sickle anemia or another blood disorder, she said.
"The most common underlying conditions [for children] were asthma and chronic lung disease, neuromuscular diseases and sickle cell or other blood disorders," Schuchat said.
The findings were based on data collected on 1,400 hospitalized adults and more than 500 hospitalized children whose medical centers participate in the CDC's Emerging Infections Program Network, she said.
As of last Friday, 12,384 people in the United States had been hospitalized with influenza since August, and 1,544 had died, including 81 children, according to the CDC.
The number of pediatric deaths from the H1N1 swine flu is higher than usually seen with regular seasonal flu. During the past three years, deaths among children from the regular seasonal flu ranged from 46 to 88 annually, Schuchat said last Friday.
About 30 percent of the children who died had chronic medical conditions, such as asthma, cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy. Among adults, about 30 percent died of severe bacterial pn
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