Monday, September 7, 2009

Are children at higher risk for swine flu?

A main difference between swine flu and seasonal flu is that people over 60 appear to have some immunity to swine flu, while younger people seem not to. And because children and young adults are more likely to gather in groups — at school and colleges — they are more vulnerable to catching all types of flu. So while the disease does not appear to be more severe than seasonal flu, a disproportionate number of young people will probably get it.

As with seasonal flu, some people will get very sick and some of them will die. Federal health officials report that at least 36 children in the United States have died of swine flu; most had nervous system disorders like cerebral palsy or developmental delays. Some, however, had been healthy; they died of bacterial infections that set in after the flu. Doctors speculate that children with nerve and muscle disorders can’t cough hard enough to clear the airways, putting them at higher risk for complications.

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