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 CA:Swine-Flu Deaths Higher in the Elderly 
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Post CA:Swine-Flu Deaths Higher in the Elderly
Swine-Flu Deaths Higher in the Elderly
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142 ... TopStories
By JENNIFER CORBETT DOOREN * NOVEMBER 4, 2009

People age 50 and older who were hospitalized with the swine flu in California had the highest fatality rate from the illness, while those younger than 18 had the lowest death rates.

Researchers from the California Department of Public Health looked at 1,088 cases of hospitalization and death attributed to H1N1 from April 23—shortly after the virus was discovered—through Aug. 11.

The findings will be published in this week's Journal of the American Medical Association.

While hospitalization rates in California were highest for infants and young adults ages 18 to 29 and lower for older people, the findings suggest older people who are hospitalized are more likely to die.

"Despite reports that elderly persons may be 'protected' by pre-existing immunity, clinicians should closely monitor and promptly treat hospitalized patients with pandemic 2009 influenza A H1N1 infection," researchers wrote.

Still, similar to statistics collected by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, data in California show H1N1 is hitting young people harder than what's typically seen for seasonal flu. The median age of hospitalized patients in California was 27.

Of the 1,088 hospitalization and death reports in California, 118 were deaths, which translates into fatality rate of 11%, researchers said.

For people age 50 and older, the fatality rate was as high as 20%. Eight of the 118 deaths were reported in children younger than age 18, while 110 were in people age 18 and older. The most common causes of death were viral pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome, which are complications of influenza.

The proportion of deaths seen over the spring and summer in California differs from a recent analysis conducted by the CDC involving 292 deaths reported by 28 states from Aug. 30 to Oct. 10. The percentage of deaths in people age 24 and younger was 24%, and in those ages 25 to 64, it was 64%. Twelve percent of the deaths occurred in people age 65 and older.

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