ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Air Pollution May Raise Blood Pressure
New Spray Could Benefit Cystic Fibrosis Patients
'Safe' Ozone Levels May Not Be for Some
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Acupuncture Eases Side Effects of Head, Neck Cancer Treatments
Health Tip: Anticipating Acupuncture
Taking the Mystery Out of Hypnotherapy
ANIMAL CARE
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
Safe Toys for Dogs
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
BONES & JOINTS
Using a Balloon to Repair a Broken Back
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Living Near Major Road May Boost Rheumatoid Arthritis Risk
CANCER
Smoking Exposure Now Linked to Colon, Breast Cancers
Get to Know the Pap Test
Well Water Might Raise Bladder Cancer Risk
CAREGIVING
Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome as Deadly as Ever
Many Alzheimer's Caregivers Admit to Abusive Behavior
Undoing the 'Big Baby' Trend
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Mercury in Fish Linked to High Blood Pressure
Years of Exposure to Traffic Pollution Raises Blood Pressure
Anemia Rates Down for U.S. Women and Children
COSMETIC
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
What to Do If You Have Unsightly Veins
Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
DENTAL, ORAL
Acupuncture May Ease Anxiety Over Dental Work
Biological Product Shows Promise Against Gum Disease
Mom's Vitamin D Levels Affect Baby's Dental Health
DIABETES
Fish Twice a Week Cuts Diabetics' Kidney Risks
Poor Blood Sugar Control After Heart Surgery Impacts Outcomes
Doctors Urged to Screen Diabetics for Sleep Apnea
DIET, NUTRITION
Oregano Shown to be the Most Powerful Culinary Herb
Mediterranean Diet Enriched With Nuts Cuts Heart Risks
Heart Disease May Be Prevented By Taking Fish Oils, Study Shows
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Rainy Areas in U.S. Show Higher Autism Rates
Meat-Eating Dinosaurs Used Legs and Arms Like Birds
Global Warming Linked to Heightened Kidney Stone Risk
EYE CARE, VISION
Americans Losing Sight of Eye Health
When Gauging Age, the Eyes Have It
Blood Sugar Control Helps Diabetics Preserve Sight
FITNESS
Any Exercise Good After a Heart Attack
Living With Less TV, More Sweat Boosts Weight Loss
'Safe' Ozone Levels May Not Be for Some
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
GENERAL HEALTH
Heal Your Life® Tips for Living Well
8 Drugs Doctors Would Never Take
Biomarkers May Help Measure Rate of Decline in Dementia
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Omega-3, Some Omega-6 Fatty Acids Boost Cardiovascular Health
Implanted Defibrillators Boost Long-Term Survival
Too Much Red Meat May Shorten Life Span
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Grapefruit Compound Inhibits Hepatitis C Virus
Swine Flu Loves a Crowd
Chinese 'Devil Dung' Plant Could Be a Swine Flu Fighter
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Quick Orthopedic Repair Can Save Young Shoulders
Green Tea May Help Brain Cope With Sleep Disorders
Obese Children More Likely to Suffer Lower Body Injuries
MEN'S HEALTH
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Physical Activity May Prolong Survival After Colon Cancer
Drinking Green Tea May Slow Prostate Cancer
MENTAL HEALTH
Man's Best Friend Helps Mend Broken Hearts
Using the Mind to Heal the Heart
Have a Goal in Life? You Might Live Longer
PAIN
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
For Baby and Mom Alike, Breast-Feeding May Be Best
Pregnant Women Exposed To Certain Pollutants Could Lower Childs IQ
Expectant Mom's Exercise Keeps Newborn's Birth Weight Down
SENIORS
Want Better Health in the New Year, Add Exercise to Your Day
Community Exercise Programs Boost Seniors' Strength
Many Cancer Survivors Don't Adopt Healthy Lifestyle
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Air Pollution Slows Women's Marathon Times
Acupuncture May Relieve Acid Indigestation In Pregnancy
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
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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