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About That Swine Flu Pandemic

Never mind?

The theoretical worst case scenarios associated with this year’s H1N1 pandemic taught us not to take influenza for granted. However, a new study suggests the worst case scenario for H1N1 may be only slightly more deadly than a typical outbreak of seasonal flu — and, in a best case scenario, much less.

In the study, published in the Public Library of Science journal, “PLoS Medicine,” researchers analyzed extensive data from outbreaks in Milwaukee and New York from April to July to get a more accurate picture of the risks associated with the virus.

Among their major findings, approximately 1 in 70 people with symptoms of pandemic H1N1 required hospitalization. About 1 in 400 symptomatic cases required treatment. And approximately 1 in 2,000 people who had H1N1 symptoms died.

Estimates of severity fell even lower (by 7 to 9 times) when researchers took into account a New York telephone survey in which respondents self-reported incidence of flu-like illness in their families.

The study’s authors conclude, “These estimates suggest that an autumn-winter pandemic wave of pH1N1 with comparable severity per case could lead to a number of deaths in the range from considerably below that associated with seasonal influenza to slightly higher.”

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