Severe illness from the H1N1 virus can occur at all ages, with about 30% of hospitalized cases requiring treatment in an intensive-care unit, says a new study in the Nov. 4 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
H1N1 can be dangerous for patients of all ages, study warns
Researchers studied the clinical and epidemiologic features of the first 1,088 hospitalized and fatal cases from the H1N1 virus reported in California between April 23 and August 11, 2009. They found that of the 1,088 cases, 344, or 32%, were children under the age of 18, with infants having the highest rate of hospitalization. Meanwhile, persons aged 50 or older had the highest death rate once hospitalized. Overall fatality was 11%. Also, underlying conditions were reported in 68% of the cases.
“Clinicians should maintain a high level of suspicion for pandemic 2009 influenza A H1N1 infection in patients presenting currently with influenza-like illness who are older than 50 years or have known risk factors for influenza complications, regardless of rapid-test results,” the researchers wrote in a news release about the study. “Hospitalized infected cases should be carefully monitored and treated promptly with anti-viral agents,” they added.
Most hospitalized cases, the researchers concluded, had identifiable established risk factors, and obesity is one risk factor they suggest “merits further study.”
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