ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Know Your Asthma Triggers
Air Quality Better in Northeast, Midwest
New Spray Could Benefit Cystic Fibrosis Patients
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
No Verdict Yet on Grape Seed Extract vs. Breast Cancer
Indigo Ointment Benefits Psoriasis Patients
Acupuncture Eases Breast Cancer Treatment Side Effects
ANIMAL CARE
Beware of Dog Bites
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
BONES & JOINTS
Rheumatoid Arthritis a Threat to the Heart
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Extra Pounds in Mid-Life Affect Later Mobility
CANCER
Immune Therapy May Aid Kids With Neuroblastoma
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
Scams and Shams That Prey on Cancer Patients
CAREGIVING
Newborn Screenings Now Required Across U.S.
Early Exercise Boosts Outcomes for ICU Patients
Baby's Sleep Position May Not Affect Severity of Head Flattening
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Bad Marriages Harder on Women's Health
Health Tip: Are You Anemic?
An Apple a Day May Help Keep Heart Disease Away
COSMETIC
New Genetic Links to Baldness Discovered
Science May Banish Bad Hair Days
Health Tip: After Liposuction
DENTAL, ORAL
Study Links Osteoporosis Drugs to Jaw Trouble
Acid Drinks Blamed for Increase in Tooth Erosion
Scientists Find Gene for Tooth Enamel
DIABETES
Saliva Test Could Monitor Type 2 Diabetes
Americans Consuming More Sugary Beverages
Arthritis Hits More Than Half of Diabetics
DIET, NUTRITION
Eating Vegan or Raw-Vegan at Regular Restaurants
Soluble Fiber, But Not Bran, Soothes Irritable Bowel
'Organic' May Not Mean Healthier
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Rainy Areas in U.S. Show Higher Autism Rates
Clear Skies Have Become Less So Over Time, Data Show
Cleaning House May Be Risky for Women With Asthma
EYE CARE, VISION
Antioxidant-Rich Diet May Protect Against Eye Disease
Drinking Green Tea May Protect Eyes
Thyroid Problems Boost Glaucoma Risk
FITNESS
Keep Safety in Mind While Your Kids Are Cooling Off in the Water
Tai Chi: An Ideal Exercise for Many People with Diabetes
FDA Mandates New Warnings for Botox
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
Bowel Prep Harder on Women Than Men
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
GENERAL HEALTH
Health Gains From Lowered Smoking Rates in Jeopardy
It Pays to Eat Less as You Age
Research Shows Genetic Activity of Antioxidants
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Subway Defibrillators Save Lives
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Ingredient in Dark Chocolate Could Guard Against Stroke
Irregular Heartbeat Tied to Alzheimer's Disease
Years of Heavy Smoking Raises Heart Risks
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Closes Three Schools in NYC
Dry Weather Boosts Odds of Flu Outbreaks
Swine Flu Is Now a Pandemic Says W.H.O.
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Gene Variation Found in Boys With Delinquent Peers
Heart Defects in Newborns Linked to Antidepressants
Don't Leave Your Kids In The Car !
MEN'S HEALTH
Countdown to Hair Loss
Low Iron Levels Cut Cancer Risk in Men With PAD
Sunlight May Help Protect Men From Kidney Cancer
MENTAL HEALTH
Brain Scans Show How Humans 'Hear' Emotion
The Unmedicated Mind
Have a Goal in Life? You Might Live Longer
PAIN
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Prenatal Stress May Boost Baby's Asthma Risk
Pre-Pregnancy Weight Linked to Babies' Heart Problems
Yoga's Benefits Outweigh Risks for Pregnant Women
SENIORS
The Juice From Beetroots May Boost Stamina
Living Alone Increases Odds of Developing Dementia
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
Omega-3 May Reduce Endometriosis Risk
Steady Weight Gain Boosts Late-Life Breast Cancer Risk
Add your Article

Swine Flu Fatality Rate a 'Little Bit' Higher Than That of Seasonal Flu

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, May 18 (HealthDay News) -- While most cases of swine flu continue to be no worse than seasonal flu, the death rate from the new H1N1 virus is slightly higher than that seen with seasonal flu, U.S. health officials said Monday.

"Our best estimate right now is that the fatality [rate] is likely a little bit higher than seasonal influenza, but not necessarily substantially higher," Dr. Anne Schuchat, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's interim deputy director for science and public health program, said during an afternoon teleconference.

In addition, unlike seasonal flu, which typically strikes hardest at the very young and the elderly, the new H1N1 swine flu is largely affecting children, teens and young adults, with more hospitalizations of younger people, Schuchat said.

"The hospitalizations that we are tracking have this disproportionate occurrence among younger persons," she said. "That's very unusual to have so many people under 20 requiring hospitalization in some of those intensive-care units."

Schuchat added that the spread of the swine flu is far from over and could continue through the summer. "H1N1 is not going away, despite what you've heard," she said.

The heat and humidity of summer months are less conducive to the spread of influenza virus, Schuchat said. "This is certainly a possibility -- it's not something I can predict. Most years, the seasonal influenza strains have very reduced circulation in the summer months. Unfortunately, we don't know if we are going to get a break this summer with this [H1N1] virus."

On Sunday night, an assistant principal at a New York City public school became the sixth person in the United States to die from the disease that was first identified last month. On Monday, ABC News rep[orted that New York City health officials announced the closure of three more school buildings for Tuesday, bringing the total number of schools closed due to swine flu to 16.

Health officials said Sunday that the death was not surprising, because even a normal flu season kills an estimated 36,000 Americans every year, and all signs suggest that swine flu causes mild cases of infection and the vast majority of patients recover quickly and fully.

The assistant principal, Mitchell Wiener, who worked at an intermediate school in Queens, had a history of medical problems that might have left him vulnerable to complications from swine flu. His family said he had gout, but the condition was being controlled with medication, The New York Times reported.

New York City's health commissioner, Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, who was just selected Friday by President Barack Obama to lead the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said, "We are now seeing a rising tide of flu in many parts of New York City." But he added: "Nothing we've seen so far suggests that it [swine flu] is more dangerous to someone who gets it than the flu that comes every year. We should not forget that the flu that comes every year kills about 1,000 New Yorkers," the Times reported.

Hours before Wiener's death, city officials announced that five more Queens schools had been closed. Wiener's school is one of eight schools temporarily shuttered in New York City by the city health department due to concerns about swine flu, CNN reported.

On Monday, the CDC was reporting 5,123 U.S. cases of swine flu in 48 states, and six deaths. For the most part, the infections continue to be mild and recovery is fairly quick.

The World Health Organization on Monday was reporting 8,480 diagnosed cases in 39 countries, including at least 75 deaths, mostly in Mexico, believed to be the source of the outbreak.

Testing has found that the swine flu virus remains susceptible to two common antiviral drugs, Tamiflu and Relenza, according to the CDC.

The swine flu is a highly unusual mix of swine, bird and human flu viruses. Experts worry that, if the new flu virus mutates, people would have limited immunity to fight the infection.

The CDC is concerned with what will happen as this new virus moves into the Southern Hemisphere, where the flu season is about to start. The agency is also preparing for the virus' likely return in the fall to the Northern Hemisphere.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization opened its annual meeting Monday in Geneva, Switzerland, with swine flu and the possibility of a vaccine dominating the agenda, the Associated Press reported.

The WHO's director-general, Dr. Margaret Chan, was expected to review experts' recommendations on which companies should produce a vaccine, how much they should make and how it could best be distributed, the news service said.

One factor complicating a decision is that most flu vaccine companies can only make limited amounts of both seasonal flu vaccine and pandemic vaccine, such as that needed for swine flu, and not at the same time. The producers also can't make large quantities of both types of vaccine because that would exceed manufacturing capacity, the AP said.

The WHO estimates up to 2 billion doses of swine flu vaccine could be produced yearly, though the first batches would not be available for four to six months.

Also Monday, health officials were examining new swine flu cases in Spain, Great Britain and especially Japan, where more than 130 people -- most of them teenagers -- have been infected, prompting the government to close 2,000 schools and cancel public events. Many of the new cases were transmitted in-country, meaning those infected had not traveled overseas recently, the AP said.

On Friday, U.S. health officials said the true number of swine flu infections could be higher than 100,000 nationwide.

Dr. Daniel Jernigan, of the CDC's Influenza Division, said that "estimates of the confirmed and probable cases in the United States is probably not the best indicator of transmission at this point. The outbreak is not localized, but is spreading and appears to be expanding throughout the United States. This is an ongoing public health threat."

It's difficult to estimate the number of people who may be infected with swine flu, Jernigan said, "but if we had to make an estimate, I would say that the amount of activity we are seeing with our influenza-like illness network is probably upwards of 100,000."

Jernigan said there also seemed to be more cases of flu generally in the United States -- both the seasonal and the H1N1 swine flu -- than is usually seen at this time of the year.

More information

For more on swine flu, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.



SOURCES: May 18, 2009, teleconference with Anne Schuchat, M.D., Interim Deputy Director for Science and Public Health Program, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; May 15, 2009, teleconference with Daniel Jernigan, M.D., Influenza Division, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Associated Press; The New York Times; CNN

Last Updated: May 18, 2009

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