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As many as 500,000 New Yorkers may have been infected with the H1N1 virus that causes swine flu, federal officials said yesterday, far more than initially estimated by the city’s Department of Health.
The new data is based on a community survey that found 6.9 percent of New Yorkers experienced a flu-like illness during a three-week period in May when the illness was at its most active. Researchers used a new type of modeling to extrapolate an estimate of how many city residents were likely infected with the new virus but didn’t seek treatment.
“About half a million New Yorkers may have been infected,” said Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the CDC.
Nationwide, Schuchat said, there’s probably been 50 times more cases of swine flu than have been officially reported.
“There have been at least a million cases of the new H1N1 virus so far this year,” Schuchat said. “Reported cases are really just the tip of the iceberg.”
New York has recorded 804 swine flu hospitalizations and 32 deaths related to the disease. Earlier this month the city Health Department said new infections of the N1N1 virus appeared to be on the decline.
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