October 2, 2009

What groups are most at risk for severe outcomes?

What groups are most at risk for severe outcomes?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people at greatest risk for catching H1N1 or having a severe outcome include young people age 6 months to 25 years, pregnant women, and people with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes or heart and lung disease.

“The H1N1 virus is new to most of the population,” said William Schaffner, M.D., professor of Preventive Medicine and chair of the department.

“Children and young adults are that part of the population that is completely susceptible to this new strain of influenza, so the virus has had the greatest impact on them.

“Older persons, especially those over 60 years of age, likely were infected years ago with a virus that was similar to the current H1N1.

“As a consequence, older persons appear to have persistent immunity, which gives them partial to complete protection against the virus.”

Those younger than 50 are most susceptible to this new influenza virus.

Beyond that, day cares, schools and colleges are environments where sustained close contact provides an ideal environment for transmission.

People with an underlying medical condition are at increased risk of the complications of influenza and should discuss with their physician what to do in the event of illness.

The first doses of H1N1 vaccine will be offered to members of these high- risk groups as well as health care workers and other caregivers.