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CDC estimates a threefold increase in overall cases

December 02, 2009
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ATLANTA — The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that about 22 million people in the United States have already been infected with the H1N1 influenza A (swine flu) virus, and that number could easily increase to more than 34 million, according to the Willits News.
According to the story, the CDC believes that while the reporting methods it uses results in a significant underreporting of the number of those afflicted, it is the best method it has to monitor the rapidly changing situation.
The CDC estimates that between April 2009 and October 2009, there were about 79 unreported cases for every reported swine flu case and roughly 2.7 actual cases for every hospitalized case of the virus, the story stated.
Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD), said: "Even though we saw a little bit of a decrease this week, it is still higher than the peak activity in many years. We can''t predict exactly what''s going to happen over the weeks or months ahead. Influenza season typically goes from December to May. Nothing is typical about this year''s influenza. We may have weeks and months of a lot of disease ahead of us. Our expectation is that the next several weeks will be busy ones as people increase traveling over the holidays, we may see a mixing of people around the country."
Using the latest available figures and more realistic statistics, an estimated 10 percent of the United States population will fall ill with the swine flu and 6 percent of those hospitalized will die, the story noted.
The statistical methods used to review past data cannot be used to precisely predict the future course of the pandemic, making it extremely difficult to speculate and offer accurate estimates, the story added.
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