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Younger Age of More Severe Swine Flu Cases Worries Experts
Date:5/6/2009

Average age of those hospitalized in U.S. is 15, CDC says

WEDNESDAY, May 6 (HealthDay News) -- While the large majority of U.S. cases of swine flu continue to be mild, those who are hospitalized with more severe disease appear to be atypically young, federal health officials said Wednesday.

The median age of hospitalized individuals with swine flu is 15, which is younger than occurs with regular seasonal flu, Dr. Richard Besser, acting director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said during an afternoon news conference.

"We are seeing the same distribution in hospitalized patients as we are in milder cases in the community, and that's younger than what you would see in seasonal flu," Besser said. "In seasonal flu you tend to see a predominance of burden of disease in the elderly and in the very young, and here we are seeing it more in the younger population."

"That is something we are keeping our eye on. That is something that raises concern," he added.

Overall, the age spread for hospitalized patients ranges from 8 months to 53 years of age, Besser said. Why the more severe cases are skewing young remains unclear, he said, but it could be that younger people are getting sicker sooner, or older people may have some kind of built-in immunity.

In any case, the U.S. outbreak of H1N1 swine flu is continuing and, although most cases are still mild, more deaths are expected, Besser said. "We remain concerned," he said. "We are seeing continued spread around the country. We are seeing increases in numbers of patients."

The death earlier this week of a woman in Texas, the first U.S. resident to die from the swine flu, "reminds us that influenza can be a very serious infection, and it's one we need to continue to take very seriously," Besser added.

According to the Associated Press, Texas health officials have not said that the death of 33-year-old schooltea
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