US Swine Flu Cases May Have Hit 1 Million

June 25, 2009 By MIKE STOBBE , AP Medical Writer
In a Thursday, April 30, 2009 file photo, a sample of suspected swine flu is displayed by a technician at the Washington State Public Health Laboratories in Shoreline, Wash. Health officials at Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta said Thursday, June 25 2009, that they estimate that as many as 1 million Americans now have the new swine flu. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)

(AP) -- As many as 1 million Americans now have swine flu, U.S. health officials said Thursday, adding that 6 percent or more of some urban areas are infected. The estimate voiced by a government flu scientist Thursday was no surprise to the experts who have been closely watching the virus.

"We knew diagnosed cases were just the tip of the iceberg," said Dr. William Schaffner, a Vanderbilt University expert who was in Atlanta for the meeting of a vaccine advisory panel.

Lyn Finelli, a flu surveillance official with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, made the 1 million estimate in a presentation to the vaccine panel. The number is from mathematical modeling, based on surveys by health officials.

Regular seasonal flu sickens anywhere from 15 million to 60 million Americans each year.

The United States has roughly half the world's swine flu cases, with nearly 28,000 reported to the CDC so far. The U.S. count includes 3,065 hospitalizations and 127 deaths.

The percentage of cases hospitalized has been growing, but that may be due to closer scrutiny of very sick patients. It takes about three days from the time symptoms appear to hospitalization, Finelli said, and the average hospital stay has been three days.

Other health problems have been a factor in most cases: About one in three of the hospitalized cases had asthma, 16 percent diabetes, 12 percent have problems and 11 percent chronic heart disease.

The numbers again highlight how the young seem to be particularly at risk of catching the new virus. But data also show that the flu has been more dangerous to adults who catch it.

The average age of swine flu patients is 12, the average age for hospitalized patients is 20, and for people who died, it was 37. It seems to be deadliest to people 65 and older, with deaths in more than 2 percent of elderly people infected, Finelli said.

Also at the meeting, CDC officials made projections about flu vaccines expected to be available to protect against both seasonal and swine flu this fall.

Roughly 10 million doses of seasonal should be available by early September, and production for the whole flu season should be around the 143 million doses produced for the 2008-09 season, said Dr. Anthony Fiore, a CDC flu specialist.

For the vaccine, health officials outlined possibilities for a campaign urging people to get the shot. The vaccinations might be given as two shots, spaced 21 days apart, but the vaccine has to be tested and licensed before it's made available to the public.

©2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Zika virus infection alters human and viral RNA

October 20, 2016

Researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine have discovered that Zika virus infection leads to modifications of both viral and human genetic material. These modifications—chemical tags known as ...

Food-poisoning bacteria may be behind Crohn's disease

October 19, 2016

People who retain a particular bacterium in their gut after a bout of food poisoning may be at an increased risk of developing Crohn's disease later in life, according to a new study led by researchers at McMaster University.

Neurodevelopmental model of Zika may provide rapid answers

October 19, 2016

A newly published study from researchers working in collaboration with the Regenerative Bioscience Center at the University of Georgia demonstrates fetal death and brain damage in early chick embryos similar to microcephaly—a ...

Scientists uncover new facets of Zika-related birth defects

October 17, 2016

In a study that could one day help eliminate the tragic birth defects caused by Zika virus, scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have elucidated how the virus attacks the brains of newborns, ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.