November 2, 2009
A hotel in the mountain resort of Sinaia was closed Sunday after 40 Romanian and foreign law students meeting for a conference caught swine flu, officials said.
Health state secretary Adrian Streinu-Cercel said 40 people were hospitalized Sunday at the Matei Bals Institute for Infectious Diseases in Bucharest, suffering from medium to severe forms of the flu.
The hospitalization of 40 students in Romania (see map) with medium to severe forms of H1N1 raises concerns.* Although outbreaks of H1N1 among students are common, hospitalization of 40 at a conference is not, especially when they have medium to severe forms of the flu.
The conference was attended by 240 students from 31 countries, so hospitalization of 40 represents a high attack rate, which was seen in Ukraine, where over 7383 have been hospitalized (see table).* In the United States about 5% of hospitalized H1N1 patients die, so these high numbers raise concerns that the death rates in these countries will climb sharply in the upcoming days or weeks.
WHO has sent a team to Ukraine to investigate, and samples have been sent to London for analysis.* Sequence data from both outbreaks would be useful.
The sudden rise in fatal and hospitalized patients across the northern hemisphere in general and Eastern Europe in particular, raises concerns.