Dec. 10, 2009 - H1N1 swine flu killed 10,000 Americans, sent 213,000 to the hospital, and sickened 50 million -- a sixth of the population -- by mid-November, the CDC estimates.
The CDC's new estimates reflect a flood of new cases from mid-October to mid-November, as the current wave of the U.S. flu pandemic was climbing to its peak. The numbers represent the middle of a range of estimates made using statistical calculations to correct for underreporting of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths.
"Sadly, there were nearly 10,000 deaths: 1,100 in children and 7,500 among young adults," CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH, said at a news conference. "That is much higher than we would see in a usual flu season. This is a flu that is much harder on young people and that has largely spared the elderly."
The new estimates suggest that about 15% of the population -- one in six Americans -- has had the H1N1 swine flu.
"That leaves most Americans not infected or vaccinated and still susceptible to H1N1 flu," Frieden said. "Even if there were a lot of infections without symptoms and adding in those who have been vaccinated, that still leaves a lot of people unprotected. Only time will tell what the future will hold -- but the more people who get vaccinated, the lower the probability of a third wave of the pandemic."
The estimates suggest that there may have been as many as 13,930 deaths and 67 million flu cases from the beginning of the epidemic in April to Nov. 14. Here's the CDC's breakdown according to age: