JAMA Study: H1N1 Hits Hard at All Ages (Reposted Article)

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was sent to me by Sandy Close, executive director of New America Media. She requested that I repost this article, a study on the H1N1 virus, since the information could be beneficial to my readers. The original article was posted here.

JAMA Study: H1N1 Hits Hard at All Ages
New America Media, News Report, Paul Kleyman and Viji Sundaram, Posted: Nov 05, 2009

Evidently, the swine flu upholds an old American tradition, after all: It doesn’t discriminate by age — especially when it comes to death.

Previous reports suggesting that older H1N1 flu victims are less prone to severe outcomes than children and young adults have been called into question by a new report published November 3 in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

The article states, “In contrast with the common perception that pandemic 2009 influenza A (H1N1) infection causes only mild disease, hospitalization and death occurred at all ages, and up to 30 percent of hospitalized cases were severely ill.”

Although one-third of those hospitalized were ages 18 or younger, the authors write that people age 50 or older have the highest rate of death once hospitalized.

“What our study shows was that once you were hospitalized, if you were elderly, you have a higher risk of dying,” said Janice K. Louie, of the California Department of Public Health, Richmond, Calif. Louie study appears in JAMA.

Louie, and her fellow researchers examined the records of the first 1,088 hospitalized and fatal cases due to the pandemic in California. Although seven percent of this 18 or younger died after hospital admission, the death rate was 18-20 percent — about one in five — for hospitalized adults 50-plus. Overall the death rate was 11%, or one in nine.

Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that the results of Louie’s study matches with one done by his agency. H1N1 affects all age groups, including those over 65.

“If they get it, it can be every bit as severe as seasonal flu, consistent with other data,” Frieden is quoted as saying at a news conference.

To avoid having apparently mild cases escalate into serious illness, Louie and her colleagues advise clinicians to closely monitor those 50 or older, who turn up with an flu-like symptoms regardless of initial results.

Once hospitalized, adults, especially those with potentially aggravated underlying conditions, “should be carefully monitored and treated promptly with antiviral agents.”

Interestingly, the authors noted that besides the usual risk factors, such as asthma, a new one appears evident among those hospitalized — obesity. They call for more study of this finding.

Findings of the new study do not change the CDC’s recommendation for vaccination, which focuses on younger people, those with such chronic conditions as asthma and pregnant women.

What they do suggest is that doctors should not dismiss the risks to older patients, said Frieden.

To contact Louie, call Michael Sicilia at 916-445-2108 or e-mail Michael.Sicilia@cdph.ca.gov.

3 thoughts on “JAMA Study: H1N1 Hits Hard at All Ages (Reposted Article)

  1. BEIJING – The A/H1N1 influenza virus is responsible for nearly 80 percent of China’s total flu infections and most of the mass cases occurred in schools, according to a senior official with the Ministry of Health (MOH).

    A/H1N1 accounts for 80% total flu cases Flu Pandemic Outbreak

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    A/H1N1 accounts for 80% total flu cases Youths worst hit by H1N1
    A/H1N1 accounts for 80% total flu cases WHO: China’s H1N1 vaccine safe, effective
    A/H1N1 accounts for 80% total flu cases Obama declares H1N1 flu a national emergency
    “As the weather keeps getting colder, many regions are entering the traditional period of possible flu outbreak, and prevention and control work is becoming tougher,” Liang Wannian, vice director of the health emergency office under the MOH, said Thursday during an online interview with the official website of the Chinese government.

    According to Liang, as of Wednesday, a total of 1,502 mass cases were reported in 31 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions of the Chinese mainland and 96.4 percent occurred in schools.

    Liang said the country would act faster in providing vaccines for more people as it was still the most effective way to protect vulnerable groups and keep patients’ illness situation from deteriorating.

    On Wednesday Beijing reported an A/H1N1 death case of a university student, also the fourth on the Chinese mainland.

    Liang revealed that, based on clinical experiments, at least 85 percent of people receiving the vaccine would get protection from the virus and the effectiveness duration would last till this winter or next spring.

    So far the side effects of the vaccine had been mostly slight, such as temporary fever and exhaustion, and the benefits from receiving the vaccine were “far greater” than harms.

    Statistics from the ministry show that the Chinese mainland had reported 42,009 confirmed cases of the A/H1N1 flu by 3 p.m. Wednesday.

    A total of 30,854 patients had recovered. Twenty-two of 66 patients in serious conditions had been cured, the ministry said.


  2. Very informative information. Would you mind if I quoted parts of this page if I provided a link back here and cited you as the source? Thanks

    1. Thanks for checking the blog. This article was re-posted at the request of the news organization that produced the article. So you would have to cite them as the source.

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