Flu killing young and middle-aged patients

ST. LOUIS (KSDK) - It's an alert from a major local hospital.

Barnes Jewish Hospital now reports nine flu deaths, but it's the young age and good health of the victims that really has them so concerned.

We always hear how the very young and the very old are the most at risk, and that is true, but Barnes Jewish Hospital has seen victims of the flu as young as their 20's.

About 35 people severely sick from the flu have been treated in the Barnes Jewish ICU, 9 people have died.

Those victims range in age from their mid-20's to mid-60's.

Washington University Infectious Disease Doctor Steven Lawrence says Barnes Jewish began to see a sharp uptick in flu cases about mid-December.

Lawrence says it's not exactly the overall number of flu cases that's alarming, but the severity of the illnesses, the number of deaths and the ages impacted.

"It's because of the nature of the H1N1 virus that we're seeing very similar to 2009," Lawrence said, "it also can cause really severe disease in people that are relatively young and healthy. We're seeing some adults that are young adults, middle aged adults without a lot of chronic health problems, some are getting very sick from it."

Barnes-Jewish sees about a dozen new cases a day.

We checked with SLU and Mercy hospitals. They have no confirmed deaths.

Lawrence urges people to get the flu shot, most of the patients who ended up here did not get one and Lawrence says it is effective against H1N1.


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