August 1, 2009

CDC Counts More Than 350 Swine Flu Deaths In US

The CDC has counted 51 more deaths due to swine flu infections during the past week, making the total number of swine flu deaths exceed 350, according to a report issued Friday.

On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued the latest numbers of its weekly monitoring program aimed at tracking the total number of swine flu-related deaths.

The report found that 5,514 people in the US have been hospitalized due to the illness, and 353 have died "“ 51 of which occurred during the past week.

Additionally, the CDC on Friday said it would no longer be issuing the individual confirmed or probable cases, or aggregate total cases from the US.

"CDC will report the total number of hospitalizations and deaths weekly, and continue to use its traditional surveillance systems to track the progress of the novel H1N1 flu outbreak," said the CDC.

CDC officials heard from a panel on Wednesday that advised the agency of what groups should be prioritized to receive vaccinations for the H1N1 virus when it becomes available in October.

Those priority groups are to include pregnant women, which have accounted for 6 percent of swine flu deaths in the US since April. However, pregnant women only account for 1 percent of the overall US population.

"Are they more at risk for severe disease? That's the issue," Dr. Denise Jamieson, an epidemiologist with the CDC, told the Associated Press.

A recent report from the World Health Organization (WHO) showed that pregnant women could be "at increased risk for severe disease, potentially resulting in spontaneous abortion and/or death, especially during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy."

But WHO has not yet issued a formal recommendation for pregnant women to be prioritized for vaccines.

The US plans to have about 160 million doses of swine flu vaccine on hand this fall.

Last week, the CDC estimated that up to 40 percent of Americans could be infected with the swine flu virus over the next two years.

The infection rate estimates show that the number of people infected by swine flu would double the number of people with normal seasonal flu. Data implies that while about 36,000 people die from flu during a normal season, that figure could grow from 90,000 to more than a hundred thousand.

With the development and release of the vaccine, the infection rate would be likely to fall.

The World Health Organization has reported 816 swine flu-related deaths as of Monday.


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