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A report by the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, delivered Monday, said that while the impact of H1N1 was impossible to predict, a "plausible scenario" is that the epidemic could "produce infection of 30-50 percent of the U.S. population this fall and winter, with symptoms in approximately 20-40 percent of the population (60-120 million people), more than half of whom would seek medical attention."
Swine flu could lead to as many as lead to as many as 1.8 million U.S. hospital admissions during the epidemic, with up to 300,000 patients requiring care in intensive care units. In fact, those very ill patients could occupy 50-100 percent of all ICU beds in affected regions of the country at the peak of the epidemic and place "enormous stress" on ICU units.
Seasonal flue typically causes 30,000-40,000 annual deaths, mainly among people over 65.
People with certain pre-existing conditions, including pregnant women and patients with neurological disorders or respiratory impairment, diabetes, or severe obesity are at high risk, along with certain populations, such as Native Americans, the report said.
The fall resurgence in swine flu could occur as early as September, with the beginning of the school term, and the peak infection may occur in mid-October.
The report emphasized that this was a planning scenario, not a prediction. But, it added, "the scenario illustrates that an H1N1 resurgence could cause serious disruption of social and medical capacities in our country in the coming months."
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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