The swine flu pandemic that swept through several parts of the world in 2008-2010 has hit children the hardest and thankfully spared the elderly people during the current season, a new report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says.

Latest statistics of the pandemic caused by the H1N1 virus strain suggests that a lot more younger people were falling victim to the flu and losing their lives than in the normal flu season. CDC spokesman Tom Skinner has described this phenomenon as “not normal”.

In its latest Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the CDC says that the H1N1 strain has depicted unusual patterns of the disease where it was affecting more children and young adults as compared to the elderly. The report further says that the number of visits healthcare providers for flu symptoms has been the highest this season since CDC began surveillance in 1997.

The report further says that between April last and June this year, 740,000 flu specimens were tested with the total number of confirmed cases of swine flu recorded at a staggering four times the average of the previous four seasons.

Flu-associated hospitalizations for children up to age four were 6.7 per 10,000 while for those between five and 17 years of age, it was 2.5 per 10,000 between September 1, 2009 and May 1, 2010. While the rate for people between 18 and 49 was 2.5 per 10,000, 3.2 persons in every 10,000 people between 50 and 64 were hospitalized. In the case of people older than 65 years, the figure stood at 2.8 per 10,000.

Cumulative rates of hospitalization during the entire H1N1 pandemic season through May 1, 2010 stood at 8.3 per 10,000 for children up to four, 3.4 per 10,000 for ages 5-17, 3 per 10,000 for people in the 18- to-49 bracket, and 3.8 per ten thousand for those between 50 and 64. For those above 65 years of age, the rate was 3.2 per 10,000.

Lab-confirmed influenza-associated pediatric deaths reported were four times the average in the previous five influenza seasons, between August 30, 2009 and June 12, 2010.Of the 279 deaths, 226 were associated with the 2009 pandemic H1N1 strain, 51 with influenza A of unreported subtype, and two with influenza B.

Among the H1N1 pandemic deaths the maximum number of 103 children in 5-to-11 age group, followed by 94 deaths in children aged between 12 and 17. While a total of 52 deaths occurred in children aged two and below, 30 children between ages two and four died, the CDC report said.