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CDC: This Year’s Flu Strain Difficult For Young Patients

Researcher+Huang+Huang+concucts+an+experiment+on+a+flu+vaccine+at+the+Stanford+University+School+of+Medicine+on+February+6%2C+2013.+
Researcher Huang Huang concucts an experiment on a flu vaccine at the Stanford University School of Medicine on February 6, 2013.

Researcher Huang Huang concucts an experiment on a flu vaccine at the Stanford University School of Medicine on February 6, 2013.

Dai Sugano

Dai Sugano

Researcher Huang Huang concucts an experiment on a flu vaccine at the Stanford University School of Medicine on February 6, 2013.

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By Juan Perez Jr.

Chicago Tribune

(MCT)

This flu season was “particularly hard” on relatively young patients across the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Thursday.

The CDC’s early estimates fulfill the predictions by public health experts who said this season’s re-emergence of the H1N1 flu strain — responsible for a 2009 pandemic — would target younger patients the same way it did several years ago.

Patients between the ages of 18 and 64 years old represented more than 60 percent of all hospitalizations from influenza. This is more than the previous three flu seasons, the CDC said, when the age group composed roughly 35 percent of hospitalized patients.

Plus, patients who were 25 years to 64 years old have accounted for about 60 percent of flu deaths this season, the CDC said. That’s compared to 18 percent, 30 percent and 47 percent for the three previous seasons.

“Younger people may feel that influenza is not a threat to them, but this season underscores that flu can be a serious disease for anyone,” said Dr. Tom Frieden, the CDC’s director, in a statement.

The government agency’s findings were published in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report and addressed Thursday in a conference call with federal health officials.

The H1N1 virus accounted for 98 percent of influenza viruses detected, the weekly report said. The H1N1 subtype has sickened patients since its emergence, but the CDC said this season was the first time the virus has been predominant in the United States since the pandemic.

National flu data suggests the virus will continue to circulate for “a number of weeks, especially in places where activity started later in the season,” the CDC said.

“Some states that saw earlier increases in flu activity are now seeing decreases. Other states are still seeing high levels of flu activity or continued increases in activity,” the agency said.

Most injectable flu vaccines this season were meant to protect against three viruses expected to be most common. That includes the H1N1 strain, known as swine flu, one strain of influenza B and the H3N2 virus.

———

©2014 Chicago Tribune

Visit the Chicago Tribune at www.chicagotribune.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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CDC: This Year’s Flu Strain Difficult For Young Patients