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CDC boss: H1N1 five times more lethal for kids than regular flu

By Salim Jiwa     Dec 19, 2009 in Health
U.S. Centers for Disease Control director Dr. Thomas Frieden says Swine Flu was five times more lethal than an average flu season for children and young adults. Nine more pediatric deaths are reported in the latest CDC update. Watch H1N1 video review.
ATLANTA – Nine more pediatric deaths caused by Swine Flu have been reported to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and CDC director Thomas R. Frieden says the new virus has produced five time more fatalities among children than a regular flu season. (Watch video)
“Nine influenza-associated pediatric deaths were reported to CDC during week 49,” said the latest weekly report by the CDC.
“Eight of these deaths were associated with 2009 influenza A (H1N1) virus infection and one was associated with an influenza A virus for which the subtype is undetermined (thought to be H1N1),” said the CDC.
“A total of 232 deaths in children associated with 2009 influenza A (H1N1) virus infection have been reported to CDC,” said the update issued Friday. However, the CDC estimates more than a thousand children died because of the virus.
“The situation we have now is an ebbing second wave and an uncertain future,” he said, and authorities are unable to predict how many more cases will occur between the traditional start of the flu season and the end of it.
“Only the future will tell what the future will bring but it is a great time to be vaccinated,” he added.
“We do know that there has been a substantial impact of H1N1 influenza,” he said.
“By mid-November, the best estimates are that there were 47 million cases, there were 213,000 hospitalization and nearly 10,000 deaths,” said the head of the CDC.
“This has been a strain of influenza that has been much harder on children and young adults,” he added. “In fact, the number of children and young adults killed till mid-November was five times more than the average flu season.
The latest CDC report provided a breakdown of mortality among children.
“Since August 30, 2009, CDC has received 212 reports of influenza-associated pediatric deaths that occurred during the current influenza season (39 deaths in children less than 2 years old, 22 deaths in children 2-4 years old, 78 deaths in children 5-11 years old, and 73 deaths in children 12-17 years old),” said the report. “One hundred seventy-two (81%) of the 212 deaths were due to 2009 influenza A (H1N1) virus infections, 39 were associated with influenza A virus for which the subtype is undetermined, and one was associated with an influenza B virus infection.”
Since Aug. 30, the CDC has received reports of 35,309 laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated hospitalizations and 1,567 laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated deaths. CDC estimates these figures are a serious under-representations of true deaths and illness as Frieden mentioned.
While there is a nation-wide decline in flu activity, the proportion of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza (P&I) was above the epidemic threshold for the eleventh consecutive week.
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