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H1N1: Study confirms low mortality for swine flu, in Harvard University

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One of the most systematic looks yet at the swine flu pandemic confirms that it  is at worst only a little more serious than an average flu season and could well be a good deal milder, researchers said on Monday.

Study confirms low mortality for swine flu

They analyzed data from Milwaukee and New York, two U.S. cities that have kept detailed tabs on outbreaks of H1N1, to calculate a likely mortality rate of 0.048 percent.

“That is, about 1 in 2,000 people who had symptoms of pandemic H1N1 infection died,” Dr. Marc Lipsitch of Harvard University and colleagues wrote.

Probably 1.44 percent of patients with H1N1 who were sick enough to have symptoms were hospitalized, and 0.24 percent required intensive care, they added.

The findings, published in PLoS Medicine, a Public Library of Science journal, should be reassuring to public health officials and policymakers who worry that a flu pandemic could kill millions and worsen the global recession.

They do not, however, guarantee that H1N1 will not worsen, or that some other, stronger, strain of flu will not emerge.

“We have estimated … that approximately 1.44 percent of symptomatic pandemic H1N1 patients during the spring in the United States were hospitalized; 0.239 percent required intensive care or mechanical ventilation; and 0.048 percent died,” Lipsitch and colleagues wrote.

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