New reports from Mexico and Canada could foreshadow what U.S. doctors may face as winter flu season sets in.
Researchers now know that those patients with flu sick enough to be hospitalized usually required intensive, lengthy care. Many of critically the ill patients were obese, although their death rates weren't higher than others. Many in both countries were younger, and they worsened quickly after being admitted to hospitals.
"Why children may be, and clearly are, at greater risk is because their immune systems have not had and opportunity to respond to this kind of virus before," said Dr. Teresa Long, Columbus Public Health Commissioner.
Most survived, but they required special ventilators and other rescue therapies.
One report also warns of the dangers of a lack of preparedness, suggesting hospitals must develop policies to determine who will and will not receive life support if there is limited supplies.
The reports are published online in the Journal of the American Medical Association.