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 Center for Disease Control and Prevention said today.
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.
âMany times more children and younger adults unfortunately have been hospitalized or killed by H1N1 influenza than occurs during a usual flu season,â Dr. Frieden said. âThis 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 Friday âit is likely to show that disease continues to decline as the current wave recedes,â 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 stateâs 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 on split on whether there will be a third wave after the first of the year, as has happened in some past flu pandemics.
âThe truth is we donât know,â Dr. Frieden said. âOnly time will tell. Thatâs why vaccination remains the most important thing you can do to protect yourself and your family from H1N1 influenza.â
There were 12 million more doses made available this week, he said, bringing the national total to 85 million doses.