Several in Serious Condition from Swine Flu at OSU Med Center

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As the flu season continues hospitals are seeing more cases of H1N1. Ohio State Medical Center has a number of people who are critically ill with the disease. WOSU reports most patients in ICU are on some kind of life support.

Ohio State Medical Center’s Dr. Stephen Hoffmann said about seven people are in intensive care with swine flu. Most of them, Hoffmann said, have a lung injury that causes poor breathing – or septic shock which makes blood pressure drop.

“Most of our patients are on mechanical ventilation,” he said.

Hoffmann said lung injuries are very common in people who have pneumonia or the flu. There’s a 20 to 30 percent mortality rate, Hoffman says, associated with sepsis and acute respiratory distress syndrome.

“Whether there’s additional mortality impact of the flu itself I don’t think we know. The prognosis is hopeful but still a very unstable and sick population with great risk,” Hoffman said.

Hoffmann said those hospitalized with swine flu at the OSU Med Center have ranged in age from their 20s to mid-50s.

“Which we would consider younger. While some have had significant co-morbid diseases, things like renal failure or cancer or a number of other diseases, we’ve had other folks who really haven’t had those co-morbid diseases which is a little bit different than what we frequently see during flu season,” Hoffman said.

Unlike the seasonal flu, which typically affects the elderly or those with underlying health problems, the H1N1 virus continues to strike healthy young adults. Health officials are unsure why the virus is attacking the younger population.

The Ohio Department of Health’s Kristopher Weiss said so far the virus has not mutated.

“We are however seeing increased flu activity in the state of Ohio. And with the increased activity we have seen an increase in the number of hospitalizations,” he said.

Weiss said flu is unpredictable and it’s unknown if the H1N1 outbreak has peaked of if the worse is yet to come.

“We are however getting into the time of year where we typically start seeing seasonal flu circulate in the state of Ohio,” Weiss said.

Other local hospitals say they will not release swine flu hospitalization counts. Children’s Hospital said it’s emergency room and urgent care visits are 40 percent higher than normal. The Ohio Department of Health reports 1,235 people have been hospitalized around the state with the H1N1 virus since August. Two people in Franklin County – a 20-year-old mother and a 14-year-old boy – have died from the disease.