Estimate: 20,000 swine flu cases in La.

11:03 AM CDT on Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Associated Press

BATON ROUGE, La. -- State health officials estimate Louisiana has had 20,000 cases of swine flu since the outbreak began in April and most of those who have contracted the disease are children and young adults ages 5 to 24 years old.

Students at St. Charles Borromeo continue to have class, despite a couple of swine flu cases.

The least likely group to get the swine flu are people 65 years or older.

Out of the 449 confirmed cases of swine flu in Louisiana, no one in the 65 years old or older group has tested positive for the disease, according to a weekly influenza report prepared by the state's Department of Health and Hospitals.

"Older people may have been exposed to a lot of flu over the years that was similar to swine flu," said Dr. Raoult Ratard, the state's epidemiologist. "These people may now have some low level of immunity to it."

The state used a formula developed by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta to estimate the number of cases of swine flu in the state since it was first discovered in Mexico in April, Ratard said.

The state is divided into nine regions by DHH and the swine flu has been detected in all regions. Swine flu symptoms are similar to those of other flulike respiratory illnesses fever, cough, sore throat, body aches and fatigue. In a few cases, there has been intestinal upset.

While the number of swine flu cases are estimates, what has become clear is that the disease is targeting young people about 65 percent of the cases in state have been children and young adults ages 5 to 24 years old, according to the state's weekly report.

"It is not obvious why swine flu is affecting children," Ratard said. "What is obvious, though, is it seems to affect older children and young adults."

Over the weekend, swine flu hit Sorority Row at LSU when about 20 students contracted the flu during Greek rush week.

That number jumped to 52 confirmed cases by Tuesday, said Herb Vincent, LSU associate vice chancellor for communications.

Central High School was also struck by swine flu when 20 players on the school's football team tested positive for Type A flu about two weeks ago.