Dr. Pascal James Imperato, dean of the School of Public Health at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in New York City, said, "this study confirms that children and young adults are the primary transmitters of the H1N1 swine influenza virus and that vaccination will mitigate the spread of the disease."
However, Imperato is concerned that the model created by the researchers to make their estimates is flawed and the swine flu's eventual spread could be even greater.
"The difficulty with these estimates is that many cases of H1N1 swine influenza are sub-clinical or so mild as to escape reporting to health officials," Imperato said. "Thus, the degree of spread could be much greater than these estimates would indicate."
In related news, a British study published Sept. 10 in the journal Nature Biotechnology appears to confirm that the H1N1 virus infects cells much deeper in the lungs than does the regular seasonal flu.
The difference comes in the H1N1 virus' ability to attach to a receptor lying on the outside of cells typically found at a greater depth in the lung. This could explain the more severe illness experienced by certain patients infected with swine flu, the study authors said.
For more information on H1N1 swine flu, visit the Flu.Gov.
SOURCES: Ira Longini, Ph.D., professor, biostatistics, University of Washington, Seattle; Pascal James Imperato, M.D., dean and distinguished service professor, School of Public Health, SUNY Downstate Medical Center, Brooklyn, N.Y.; Sept. 10, 2009, Science; Sept. 10, 2009, news release, Imperial College London
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