New evidence shows what health authorities have known all along – H1N1 is disproportionately hard on young adults and children.
Since April 2009, the pandemic flu virus has killed 17,000 Americans – far less than a typical flu season. But up to 13,000 of those were adults under 65, and 800 to 1,800 of them were children.
H1N1 infected, in all, up to 57 million people. Those numbers are based on computer modeling, since there’s no accurate way to count flu cases.
In a different study, researchers were surprised to discover a rare heart infection occurred in four children with H1N1 in less than a month.
In the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, researchers wrote about an unusually high incidence of myocarditis in one hospital in October 2009, the peak of the second pandemic wave.
Though the hospital typically sees just two cases of virus-induced myocarditis each year, there were four children diagnosed with the condition during that 30-day period. All four had H1N1, raising suspicion that myocarditis may be more common in H1N1 patients.
“Our observations warrant a high index of suspicion for myocarditis in children with H1N1 influenza A infection. Early detection and aggressive management are paramount,” wrote researchers.
Though flu activity is low right now, experts stress that they don’t know if the pandemic has burned itself out or if it will return for another wave.
If you plan on getting your family vaccinated and haven’t yet, now seems like a good time to get that taken care of. Many pharmacies are now carrying the shot, or you can locate a provider through Flu.gov’s flu shot finder.
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