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Younger People Appear More at Risk From New Swine Flu
Date:6/29/2009

ople, the researchers said. Older people have some protection from the H1N1 strain because they have been exposed to earlier strains of H1N1 flu in childhood, specifically before the 1957 flu pandemic.

Given this, the researchers say, younger people should be vaccinated first when a vaccine becomes available, particularly if it is in limited supply, because they are most likely to get and spread the disease.

In another report in the journal, Mexican researchers also looked at the age distribution of those who died or developed acute respiratory distress from the new H1N1 flu. Of the 18 people with pneumonia hospitalized in April with the flu at the National Institute of Respiratory Diseases in Mexico City, more than half were 13 to 47 years old and only eight had a preexisting condition, the researchers found.

"The main finding is the capability of H1N1 of producing severe damage to previously healthy individuals," said the study's lead researcher, Dr. Rogelio Perez-Padilla, from the Mexico City institute. "Of course, some of the patients who died had chronic diseases, and they are in a higher risk, but the virus may affect healthy people," he said.

"Do not disregard the epidemic as mild or irrelevant," Perez-Padilla urged. "This has not been the case for an increasing number of individuals with severe disease and may change with time. Even for patients with severe disease there is hope, but unfortunately, we have to expect deaths in previously healthy individuals."

Siegel thinks that everyone should be vaccinated against this flu. "We still have to protect people with chronic illnesses, pregnant women, the very young and the very old," he said.

"The best way to protect any population is with herd immunity," Siegel said. "The goal of getting the vaccine is not to protect you, it's to protect you by getting everybody the vaccine, which decreases circulating virus."

Siegel predicted that a large ou
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