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Swine Flu Still Strikes Younger People Hardest
Date:10/20/2009

90 percent of deaths since Sept. 1 were among those under 65, CDC says

TUESDAY, Oct. 20 (HealthDay News) -- The H1N1 swine flu epidemic continues to strike younger people, a U.S. health official said Tuesday, noting that nearly 90 percent of deaths since Sept. 1 were among those under 65 years of age.

"This is dramatically different than what we see with seasonal flu," 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. "For seasonal flu, 90 percent of fatalities occur in people 65 and over -- it's almost completely reversed here," she said.

"Essentially this is a young person's disease," Schuchat added. "We don't have reporting from every single state and we know we are missing cases, so the numbers will be underestimates, but it can be helpful in illustrating some of the patterns we are seeing."

According to data collected from 28 states from Sept. 1 to Oct. 10, nearly 24 percent of deaths were among people under age 25, about 65 percent of deaths were among those 25 to 64, and only 11.6 percent of the deaths were among people 65 and older, she said.

"Each one of these cases is tragic for the family and hard for us in public health to see," she added.

Schuchat said she expects the swine flu epidemic to continue throughout the winter and into the spring, and wouldn't be surprised to see a renewed outbreak later in the season.

"We do think there will be illness, including severe illness, for some time in the future," she said. "We may see in any particular community some illness going down in the next several weeks, but we don't know whether it's going to go up again."

Schuchat noted that during the 1957-1958 Asian flu pandemic there was an outbreak in September and October, but "they had another big wave after the first of the year."

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