H1N1 flu could overtax hospital bed capacity

If the spread of the H1N1 virus isn't contained well, and 35 percent of the population gets the flu, at least 15 states could run out of hospital beds as the pandemic peaks, according to a new report.

The Trust for America's Health, a non-profit focused on disease prevention, also concluded that 12 additional states could hit 75 percent or more of bed capacity. (The group made its projections based on estimates from the FluSurge model developed by the CDC.)

If these projections hold true, many states could not only face bed shortages, but also could be forced to cut back on non-flu related discretionary hospitalizations, the group said.

TAH's report doesn't say how likely it seems to be that infection rates will spike that high. However, it does note that a) only 36.1 percent of adults were vaccinated against seasonal flu last year and b) that only 24.1 percent of younger adults ages 18 to 49 were vaccinated. Such patterns are likely to be a big problem now, given that this bug is more dangerous for young adults and children.

To learn more about the group's research:
- read the report, "H1N1 Challenges Ahead"

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