Death toll from flu rises as H1N1 strain returns, with ‘young invincibles’ most affected

by Ariana Eunjung Cha, The Washington Post  |  published on February 19, 2014

The H1N1 virus responsible for the 2009 global pandemic is back. State health officials from across the country say the resurgence is resulting in a dramatic rise in flu deaths in young and middle-aged adults and in children this season.

While the reported death tolls so far are only a fraction of what they were four years ago, they are significantly higher than last year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the flu has been killing at epidemic levels since mid-January.

With one month to six weeks to go in the flu season, which typically ends in March or April, the CDC said the number of people visiting doctors and hospitals for flu-like symptoms is declining overall, but some states are continuing to see high levels of flu activity or even increases in activity. While the flu usually disproportionately affects the very old and the very young, this season 60 percent of hospitalizations for influenza have been 18 to 64 years of age.

“These severe flu outcomes are a reminder that flu can be a very serious disease for anyone, including young, previously healthy adults,” CDC spokesman Jason McDonald said.

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