A H1N1 flu decline expected to continue

Nearly 50 million people have been infected with the novel influenza A H1N1 virus as of last month and nearly 10,000 have died, including 1,100 children, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday.


The new estimates run from April, when the new virus first emerged, through Nov. 14 and are based on extrapolations from multiple sources of data, said Director Thomas R. Frieden.

Most of the infections and deaths occurred in people younger than 65, which is unusual for flu, he said.

"Many times more children and younger adults unfortunately have been hospitalized or killed by H1N1 influenza than occurs during a usual flu season," Dr. Frieden said. "This is a flu that is much harder on younger people."

The estimates would mean that about 15 percent of the U.S. has been infected by the new virus as of last month, he said.

Recent reports have shown a decline in the number of states reporting widespread flu activity and when the latest report is released today "it is likely to show that disease continues to decline as the current wave recedes," Dr. Frieden said.

In Georgia, in fact, the week that ended Tuesday saw only two hospitalizations and no deaths, the second week in a row that no one has died from the new virus in Georgia. Hospitalizations have been on the decline since the end of September in Georgia, and flu expert James Wilde of Medical College of Georgia said earlier this week that three major Augusta hospitals have not reported a confirmed case in at least four weeks.

In the week that ended Saturday in South Carolina, there were 15 hospitalizations and five deaths, bringing the state's total to 41 fatal cases since Sept. 1, according to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. The amount of influenza-like activity in South Carolina declined for the second week in a row, according to SCDHEC.

The virus emerged in the spring and fizzled out over the summer before re-emerging in a second wave in the fall that now appears to be on the decline. Experts are split on whether there will be a third wave after the first of the year, as has happened in some past flu pandemics.

"The truth is we don't know," Dr. Frieden said. "Only time will tell."

There were 12 million more doses of vaccine made available this week, he said, bringing the national total to 85 million doses.

Reach Tom Corwin at (706) 823-3213 or tom.corwin@augustachronicle.com.


Richmond County Health Department will hold another special clinic this month to help vaccinate against the novel influenza A H1N1 virus.

The health department will administer vaccine from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Dec. 22 in its Administration section at 1916 North Leg Road, Building D.

The East Central Health District recently relaxed restrictions on who can receive the H1N1 vaccine so that it is now offered to anyone age 6 months and older.

Columbia County Health Department is offering H1N1 vaccine on a walk-in basis from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Fridays at its Evans clinic, 616 Government Center Way.

Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center will administer the H1N1 vaccine in its Family Medicine Clinic from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday.

The clinic is located on the second floor of the center and shots will be administered on a walk-in basis only. The clinic is for active-duty personnel and family members and Department of Defense retirees and family members.