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Swine flu no worse than seasonal flu for most victims, study says

More children and young adults were hospitalized as a result of pandemic H1N1 influenza than is normal for seasonal flu, but that was simply because those groups were disproportionately infected, not because the symptoms were worse, researchers said Tuesday. The pandemic flu, commonly known as swine flu, did cause more pneumonia than seasonal flu, but overall the symptoms were about the same, researchers from the Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation in Marshfield, Wisc. reported in the Journal of the American Medical Assn. The researchers were not, however, able to draw any conclusions about pregnant women and those with chronic health conditions, groups that were considered at especially high risk.

Swine flu was unusual because it was highly active during the spring and summer months when seasonal flu is normally dormant. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that between 43 million and 89 million cases occurred in the United States, with an estimated 274,000 hospitalizations and 12,470 deaths. The outbreak was termed a pandemic because the virus appeared in so many locations throughout the world, not because it was considered more virulent than seasonal flu. Although researchers feared that the virus could mutate to become more lethal, that never happened, and the virus continued to cause only mild disease. The World Health Organization officially declared the pandemic over in August. Large amounts of vaccine directed against swine flu were never used because of public complacency about the virus. A vaccine against the virus is included in this year's seasonal flu shot, however.

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