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Experts: Swine Flu no worse than Seasonal Strains

Posted by ObeMike Tuesday, December 1, 2009

source: theaustralian

THE dominant expert view that swine flu is much more dangerous than seasonal strains is under attack from Australian research, which has found little to no difference in patients infected by the two types. 

In results that could undermine uptake of the swine flu vaccine, researchers tracked the progress of all patients admitted to a major Sydney hospital during the recent epidemic, finding the course of the illness was "comparable to those of the current circulating seasonal influenza in Sydney". The findings threaten to debunk the firming medical orthodoxy that swine flu hits patients much harder than the strains that circulate every winter, particularly children and pregnant women. 

The results have already been criticised by some infectious diseases experts, who say the findings are based on very small numbers and do, in fact, point to a greater danger from swine flu. 

The study's authors, from Sydney's Liverpool Hospital, the Sydney South West Pathology Service and the University of Western Sydney, said their results showed that high numbers of hospital admissions for swine flu reflected the rapid spread of the disease, not any increased virulence of the H1N1 virus. 

"Our findings show that, for hospitalised patients, the clinical manifestations and severity of pandemic (H1N1) 2009 and seasonal influenza were similar," they wrote in the study published online yesterday by the Medical Journal of Australia. 

Even among pregnant women -- a group that was said to have been particularly at risk of severe complications in the recent epidemic -- the authors said they were "unable to demonstrate a difference in clinical severity" compared with pregnant women with annual flu strains. For the research, the authors tracked all 64 adults who were admitted to Liverpool Hospital with influenza from June 17 until July 31.

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