A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that the majority of those who were hospitalized or died as a result of the H1N1 influenza virus are young, women or Aboriginal.

The study looked at a pool of 168 patients who were diagnosed with or most likely had the swine flu. Of them, 24 or 14.3% died within the first 28 days of becoming acutely ill.

According to the study, the mortality rate is following a similar pattern to that of the Spanish flu epidemic in 1918.

A recent CBC story published many of the study’s findings which include:

•    32.2 was the average age of patients;

•    67.3% were female;

•    29.8% were children;

•    25.6% were First Nations, Inuit, Metis or Aboriginal Canadians;

•    81% received mechanical ventilation;

•    12 days was the average length of stay in ICU and on a ventilator.

Aboriginals were a particular cause for concern because of their high infection rates for as much as the study’s findings were similar to the 1918 pandemic where there was a 3%-to-9% mortality rate compared to a 0.75 infection rate amongst the general population.

Though their mortality rate might not have been substantially higher in this study, what was alarming was number of patients with severe disease and knowledge of prior illness patterns in this community.

As 7.7% of the patients were pregnant, the role of pregnancy could be a factor in this as the rates are significantly higher amongst women.