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Nearly half with swine flu had no health issues

By Mike Stobbe
Associated Press / October 14, 2009

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ATLANTA - The largest US analysis of hospitalized adult swine flu patients has found almost half were healthy people who did not have asthma or any other chronic illnesses before they got sick.

Health officials released the surprising results at a news conference yesterday, noting that 46 percent of 1,400 hospitalized adults did not have a chronic underlying condition.

They have said before that the majority of swine flu patients who develop severe illness have some sort of preexisting condition, but the new data suggest the majority may be slimmer than was previously thought.

A study of 272 hospitalized swine flu patients, released by The New England Journal of Medicine earlier this month, concluded that 83 percent of adults and 60 percent of children had underlying conditions.

However, health officials cautioned that the new analysis is preliminary and did not count obesity as an underlying condition. Earlier research has suggested obesity could be a separate risk factor for severe swine flu illness. Further analysis that counts obesity could change the results, said a spokesman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC looked at 1,400 adults and more than 500 children with swine flu who were hospitalized in 10 states at medical centers participating in a special disease surveillance network. The hospitalizations occurred from April through the end of August.

States have ordered almost 6 million doses of swine flu vaccine in the vaccination campaign that started last week.

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