10 deaths from flu in England this week

Dec. 23, 2010 at 5:33 PM
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LONDON, Dec. 23 (UPI) -- At least 10 people have died this week from influenza in England, with the H1N1 strain of the virus blamed for most of the deaths, health officials say.

So far, there have been 27 influenza deaths this winter, The Daily Telegraph reported. Nine of the dead were under the age of 18.

Only one of the deaths occurred in someone who had received a flu vaccination, health officials say. Another 21 had not been vaccinated, and officials do not know whether the others had been.

Most of the deaths occurred in people infected with the H1N1 virus. About half of those who died suffered from long-term illness that made them especially vulnerable, the newspaper said.

John Watson, head of respiratory disease at the Health Protection Agency, said the predominance of H1N1 is expected. H1N1 tends to be more lethal among young people than other strains.

"The level of flu activity we are currently seeing is at levels often seen during the winter flu seasons, but due to the fact that H1N1 is one of the predominant strains circulating at the moment, we are seeing more severe illness in people under the age of 65 than we would normally expect," Watson said.

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