Children, young adults still bear the brunt of H1N1, with the most hospitalizations and deaths
THURSDAY, Dec. 10 (HealthDay News) -- The H1N1 swine flu has sickened nearly 50 million Americans, sent more than 200,000 people to the hospital and killed nearly 10,000 -- more than 8,000 of them children and young adults, a federal health official said Thursday.
"About 15 percent of the entire country has been infected with H1N1 influenza. That means about one in six people," Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said during an afternoon press conference.
"That still leaves most people not having been infected and still remaining susceptible to H1N1 influenza," he added.
The swine flu continues to hit children and young adults the hardest, Frieden said. Among those who have died since the virus first surfaced in April, an estimated 1,100 were children and 7,500 were young adults, he noted. This is the reverse of seasonal flu, which tends to strike hardest at people 65 and older.
"By November 14, many times more children and younger adults have been hospitalized or killed by H1N1 influenza than occurs during a usual flu season," he said.
The swine flu has also been particularly virulent among the Native American and Alaskan Native populations, Frieden said.
"The death rate is about four times higher for this group," he said. "This is most likely largely a reflection of environmental factors and underlying conditions -- like diabetes and asthma -- that are more common, and access to health care, rather than a genetic or racial/ethnic difference."
Frieden said that, as has been noted before, the rate of H1N1 flu infections has subsided in recent weeks, but it's impossible to predict what the winter and spring might bring. About half of the experts interviewed by the CDC think there will be many more cases, while the other half is tak
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