As more cases of the H1N1 virus, or Swine Flu, are reported in Missouri, it has become apparent that young people are particularly at risk.
As of last Saturday, October 17th, 5,365 cases of flu had been recorded in Missouri. That has skyrocketed from the median number of flu cases reported in the state by the third weekend in October – 34. Kit Wagar with the State Department of Health and Senior Services says most of the current cases affect children.
“Of that (5,365) 58 percent or about 3,100 were aged 5-17,” said Wagar in an interview with the Missourinet. “So school age children are really bearing the brunt of this pandemic right now.”
Most cases of the flu that have been reported are believed to be H1N1. And while only a fraction of the cases will actually undergo the rigorous testing to determine the percentage of H1N1 cases, statistical sampling certainly points in that direction
“About 87 percent of the cases that we’re seeing are Type A,” said Wagar. “We’re assuming, based on our statistical tests, that almost all of those are H1N1.”
The news is not good for young people with little or no immunity to the virus, and results are mixed for those between 25 and 60 years of age, but those 65 years of age and older appear to be holding their own.
“The studies that have been done have shown that at least a third of them have a strong amount of natural resistance to this virus,” said Wagar. “The theory is that – and we don’t really know why – but the theory is that somewhere during their lifetime, most of those people have encountered some kind of virus very close to this one, and therefore their body recognizes it and reacts very quickly so if they’re exposed to it their body fights it off right away.”
There is a tremendous demand for H1N1 vaccine in Missouri. Wagar says about 15,000 to 20,000 doses a day are being shipped into the state but shortages are developing because the amount needed is exceeding the supply.