40 percent of Americans could be affected by H1N1 swine flu

The H1N1 flu could end up affecting as many as 40 percent of Americans, assuming one includes workers who stay home to care for family members or other loved ones who contract the illness, the CDC announced this week.

The CDC's projection is based on numbers drawn from the influenza pandemic in 1957, which killed almost 70,000 people in the U.S. There have been 43,771 confirmed cases of H1N1 infection and 302 deaths in the United States. Officials suspected that more than 1 million Americans have actually been infected, but that few have been confirmed since its symptoms are generally very mild.

The H1N1 virus had a 6 to 8 percent attack rate during the spring months, but officials think that during a longer winter season, attack rates could be two to three times as high. Public health officials are starting a public health campaign and a vaccination program, which will probably begin in October.

Vaccine trials are expected to begin in the U.S. next week, and U.S. officials hope to have 160 million doses of injectable swine flu vaccine on hand by October.

To learn more about the CDC's plans:
- read this HealthDay News piece

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