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National Briefing / Nationwide

Flu deaths higher than thought

November 12, 2009|Times Staff and Wire Reports

About 4,000 Americans -- rather than 1,200 -- have died of swine flu since the disease emerged in April, according to new figures being calculated by epidemiologists for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The larger number of deaths does not mean the H1N1 virus is more dangerous. Rather, it is a new estimate made by combining deaths from laboratory-confirmed cases of the flu and deaths that appear to be brought on by flu, even though the patient may have ultimately died of bacterial pneumonia, other infections or organ failure.

The new estimate of deaths -- actually a range -- will not be released until sometime next week because the CDC's consultants are still looking over the figures, said Glen Nowak, a CDC spokesman.

They were reported in the New York Times.

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