Swine Flu Has Higher Fatality Rate Than Seasonal Flu

H1N1 also is largely affecting children and young adults, though most cases are mild

MONDAY, May 18 (HealthDay News) -- The fatality rate from H1N1 swine flu is slightly higher than the fatality rate from seasonal flu, according to United States' health officials, but they say most cases of swine flu are no worse than seasonal flu.

On May 17, a man in New York City became the sixth person in the United States to die of swine flu. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is reporting 5,123 cases of swine flue in 48 states. Health officials say the most recent death was not surprising given the fact that in a normal season the flu kills about 36,000 Americans.

However, whereas seasonal flu typically hits the elderly and very young the hardest, H1N1 swine flu is disproportionately affecting children, teens and young adults, according to the CDC. The agency also expects the virus to continue to spread, possibly though the summer; but most swine flu cases are mild, and most patients recover fully.

"The hospitalizations that we are tracking have this disproportionate occurrence among younger persons," Anne Schuchat, M.D., the CDC's interim deputy director for science and public health, said during a May 18 teleconference. "That's very unusual to have so many people under 20 requiring hospitalization in some of those intensive care units."

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