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Estimated flu hospitalizations increase

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ATLANTA, Sep 14, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- The estimated number of influenza-associated hospitalizations among elderly patients has increased substantially during the past 20 years, a U.S. study found.

"Currently, we estimate that more than 200,000 respiratory and circulatory hospitalizations are associated with influenza each year in the United States, substantially more than estimates of pneumonia and influenza hospitalizations," said William Thompson, of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in Atlanta.

The researchers analyzed hospitalizations in several different ways and found there were 226,054 primary and 294,128 any listed respiratory and circulatory hospitalizations associated with influenza virus infections on average each season.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found the highest rates of influenza-associated primary respiratory and circulatory hospitalizations were in persons 85 years and older.

"Significant numbers of influenza-associated hospitalizations in the United States occur among the elderly, and the numbers of these hospitalizations have increased substantially over the last two decades due in part to the aging of the population," the authors conclude. "These findings highlight the need for improved influenza prevention efforts for both young and older U.S. residents."

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.


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