One million Americans may have swine flu virus

US health officials estimate that as many as one million Americans may now have the swine flu virus. Lyn Finelli, a flu surveillance official with the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, announced the figure at a vaccine advisory meeting in the city yesterday.

The estimate is based on mathematical modelling. Nearly 28,000 US cases of the virus have been reported to the CDC – some half of all those reported globally.

The US figure includes 3,065 people who have been admitted to hospital, and 127 who have died. But the reported figure is considered to be only a fraction of those who now have the virus. The forecast is also based on the fact that up to 60 million Americans catch seasonal flu each year. CDC statistics also show the young are particularly at risk. The average age of swine flu patients is 12, the average age of those in hospital is 20, and the average of those who have died is 37.