The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says outbreaks of the H1N1 flu (swine flu) among children attending U.S. summer camps foreshadow a surge in cases this fall as students return to school. "This is just a harbinger of what we will see in the fall," Dr. Richard Besser, who led the U.S. response to the virus outbreak last spring. He tells Reuters News that the outbreaks in summer camps have been in the hundreds. Dr. Besser predicts soaring numbers of H1N1 cases compared to those seen in April when the first U.S. cases were diagnosed in California and urges health officials to plan now for the possibility of crowded hospitals, swamped emergency rooms and overwhelmed clinics.
"The magnitude of the event in the fall will be much greater (than what was experienced last spring)," Besser said. H1N1 swine flu is now so widespread that the World Health Organization (WHO) has stopped counting individual cases. So far H1N1 is characterized by mild symptoms in most patients who go on to recover without treatment within a week. The median age of sufferers has been 14 to 17 years old, although the age is increasing slightly as the number of cases increases, according to the WHO, suggesting the virus is spreading from schools into the wider community. More Information: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention