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Spread of Swine Flu in Japan Could Raise WHO Alert to Highest Level
Date:5/19/2009

on, unlike seasonal flu, which typically strikes hardest at the very young and the elderly, the new H1N1 swine flu is largely affecting children, teens and young adults, with more hospitalizations of younger people, Schuchat said.

"The hospitalizations that we are tracking have this disproportionate occurrence among younger persons," she said. "That's very unusual to have so many people under 20 requiring hospitalization in some of those intensive-care units."

Schuchat added that the spread of the swine flu is far from over and could continue through the summer. "H1N1 is not going away, despite what you've heard," she said.

The heat and humidity of summer months are less conducive to the spread of influenza virus, Schuchat said. "This is certainly a possibility -- it's not something I can predict. Most years, the seasonal influenza strains have very reduced circulation in the summer months. Unfortunately, we don't know if we are going to get a break this summer with this [H1N1] virus."

On Sunday night, an assistant principal at a New York City public school became the sixth person in the United States to die from the disease that was first identified last month. On Monday, ABC News reported that New York City health officials announced the closure of three more school buildings for Tuesday, bringing the total number of schools closed due to swine flu to 16.

Health officials said Sunday that the assistant principal's death was not surprising, because even a normal flu season kills an estimated 36,000 Americans every year.

The assistant principal, Mitchell Wiener, who worked at an intermediate school in Queens, had a history of medical problems that might have left him vulnerable to complications from swine flu. His family said he had gout, but the condition was being controlled with medication, The New York Times reported.

New York City's health commissioner, Dr. Thomas R. Frieden
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