- The Washington Times - Friday, February 12, 2010

The federal government said Friday an estimated 57 million people in the U.S. contracted the H1N1 virus — more than previously thought because early tracking methods accounted for only one in 79 infected.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the new number is based on statistical models and replaces the earlier method of counting only laboratory-confirmed cases because so many people with the flu do not seek medical care.

“And only a small number of those who do seek care are tested,” the agency said.

The method was abandon several months after the outbreak began in spring 2009.

The most recent report — from April 2009 to mid January — also estimated 257,000 hospitalizations and 11,690 deaths related to H1N1.

The 57 million cases is roughly 4 percent more than reported in December 2009.

The spread of the virus slowed through summer 2009, then re-emerged in the fall and peaked in October. The subsequent decline follows the arrival of vaccines that were administered at first to only such at-risk patients as babies, pregnant women and people with illnesses.

The report released Friday also states as many as 84 million could have been infected and 17,160 could have died form the virus.

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