Up to 17,120 people have died in the United States from swine flu-related illness, US health authorities said Friday, releasing a new high end estimate that surpasses the global tally kept by the World Health Organization.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said between 8,330 and 17,160 people died in the United States of the H1N1 virus or related illnesses since it first broke out in April 2009.
The WHO, on the other hand, said this week from Geneva that 15,000 people have died worldwide in the pandemic, which started in Mexico and the southwestern United States.
The CDC estimated that there have been between 41 million and 84 million cases of (A)H1N1 influenza in the United States since the virus first struck over nine months ago. The CDC estimates run through January 16.
Between 183,000 and 378,000 patients were estimated to have been hospitalized with swine flu or illness related to the virus during that period.
The overwhelming majority of swine flu cases and (A)H1N1-related hospitalizations and deaths occurred in young children, teens and adults under the age of 65.
The new figures calculate that up to 76 million people under 65 years of age, including 27 million children under 18, came down with swine flu last year.
Up to eight million seniors over 65 came down with the illness, the data show.
Ninety percent of hospitalizations and 82 percent of deaths involved children and adults under 65, the data show.
Hospitalizations with H1N1-related illnesses included 120,000 minors under 18; 221,000 under 65 years old; and 37,000 over 65.
The estimates show that more seniors than children under 18 died of swine flu, by a margin of 2,180 at the high end of the estimate to 1,810.
The 18-64 years age group had the largest number of deaths - up to 13,170.
A study published in November by researchers at California's health department found that infants were most likely to be hospitalized with swine flu, but people over the age of 50 were most at risk of dying in hospital from the disease.
US health officials have repeatedly characterized swine flu as "a younger person's disease," and put children and young adults under the age of 25 on a list of five priority groups for vaccination against the disease.