Officials at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis say nine people have died from the H1N1 flu virus, also known as swine flu, over the past six weeks. Another 35 patients were sick enough to be treated in the hospital’s intensive care unit, although, many were transported from outside the area.
Infectious Disease Physician Steven Lawrence says those who died ranged in age from their mid-20s to their mid-60s.
“Nearly 100 percent of all the flu cases in the region are H1N1 flu which is the same virus that emerged in 2009 during the pandemic,” he said. “And that virus has a predilection towards affecting people who are a young to middle-aged adult.”
He says many older people have a stronger resistance to the virus due to pandemics that swept the country from 1918 to the late 1950s.
“Most people who were infected with flu before 1957 and are still alive today have some protection versus the current H1N1because it’s closely enough related to it,” he said.
Lawrence says it’s still not too late to be vaccinated for the virus. Symptoms include high fever, aching muscles, sore throats, and coughing.
Officially, Missouri has reported more than 6,700 confirmed flu cases this season. The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services lumps flu and pneumonia deaths together so the number of statewide flu deaths was not immediately available.