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Swine Flu May Bring Surge in Hospitalizations
Date:10/8/2009

In reports from Australia and U.S., most patients recovering, death rate same as seasonal flu

THURSDAY, Oct. 8 (HealthDay News) -- Potentially foreshadowing the U.S. experience this fall and winter, Australian and New Zealand health authorities who have just gone through their flu season report "substantial" traffic in their intensive care units as a result of H1N1 swine flu infections.

Because winter in the Southern Hemisphere takes place during North America's summer, the severity of the flu season Down Under might presage the character of the coming flu season further north.

And a similar report, this time from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, confirms that H1N1-stricken patients cared for in American hospitals during April, May and June were more likely to be pregnant women or younger adults with underlying medical conditions.

Both reports were released online Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the findings did not surprise him.

"What we've already experienced in the spring and what we're experiencing now is that the [H1N1] virus had a predilection to infect young people and, when you look at people who required hospitalization because of complications, it's disproportionately weighted towards pregnant women and the very young and those with underlying conditions that compromise the immune response," Fauci stated. "It's not surprising. That's exactly the pattern that we've been seeing."

"We're seeing the same kinds of patients," echoed Dr. Tamara R. Kuittinen, an emergency physician with Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

So far, that hospital has only seen one confirmed case of H1N1 along with a few suspicious cases, she said.

In the U.S. study, researchers at the CDC examined the medical charts of 272 people hospitali
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