Swine flu can turn from mild to critical extremely rapidly, with the sickest patients needing to be moved to intensive care only a day or so after being admitted to the hospital, new studies show. The worst cases have the potential to overwhelm health care facilities in the event of a widespread outbreak. "These people were not just a little bit ill," the leader of one study conducted this year says."They were spectacularly ill."
A Canadian study focused on 168 H1N1 patients who required hospitalization. Most were moved to an ICU less than 48 hours after admission, and 80% of them eventually needed ventilators. Within a month of admission, 14.3% had died. As noted by other swine flu researchers, many of these extreme cases occurred in relatively healthy, young adults, not the very old or very young usually most affected by seasonal flu, HealthDay reports.