U.S. flu deaths remain at epidemic levels amid widespread flu activity
Pneumonia and Influenza (P&I) Mortality Surveillance: During week 5, week ending February 7, 2015, some 8.1% of all deaths reported through the 122 Cities Mortality Reporting System were due to P&I. This percentage was above the epidemic threshold of 7.2% for week 5, said CDC.
Influenza-Associated Pediatric Mortality:
Eleven influenza-associated pediatric deaths were reported to CDC during week 5. Four deaths were associated with an influenza A (H3) virus and occurred during weeks 52, 3 and 4 (weeks ending December 27, 2014, January 24 and January 31, 2015). Five deaths were associated with an influenza A virus for which no subtyping was performed and occurred during weeks 53, 1, 2, and 3 (weeks ending January 3, January 10, January 17, and January 24, 2015). One death was associated with an influenza B virus and occurred during week 4. One death was associated with an influenza A and influenza B virus co-infection and occurred during week 5 (week ending February 7, 2015).
A total of 80 influenza-associated pediatric deaths have been reported during the 2014-2015 season from New York City  and 28 states (Arizona , Colorado , Florida , Georgia , Indiana , Iowa , Kansas , Kentucky , Louisiana , Maryland , Massachusetts , Michigan , Minnesota , Missouri , Nebraska , New Jersey , North Carolina , Nevada , New York , Ohio , Oklahoma , Pennsylvania , South Carolina , South Dakota , Tennessee , Texas , Virginia , and Wisconsin ).
During week 5, the following influenza activity was reported:
- Widespread influenza activity was reported by Puerto Rico and 32 states (Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming).
- Regional influenza activity was reported by Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and 16 states (Alabama, Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia).
- Local activity was reported by the District of Columbia and two states (Alaska and Minnesota).
Between October 1, 2014 and February 7, 2015, 12,065 laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated hospitalizations were reported. The overall hospitalization rate was 44.1 per 100,000 population. The highest rate of hospitalization was among adults aged ≥65 years (217.3 per 100,000 population), followed by children aged 0-4 years (40.4 per 100,000 population). Among all hospitalizations, 96.1% were associated with influenza A, 3.1% with influenza B, 0.3% with influenza A and B co-infection, and 0.4% had no virus type information. Among those with influenza A subtype information, 99.7% were A(H3N2) virus and 0.3% were A(H1N1)pdm09.
Outpatient Illness Surveillance:
Nationwide during week 5, some 3.8% of patient visits reported through the U.S. Outpatient Influenza-like Illness Surveillance Network (ILINet) were due to influenza-like illness (ILI). This percentage is above the national baseline of 2.0%.
[CDC has characterized 809 influenza viruses [21 A(H1N1)pdm09, 634 A(H3N2), and 154 influenza B viruses] collected by U.S. laboratories since October 1, 2014.]
At least 259 Floridians died from flu in first week of 2015 alone: Report
“It’s a safe bet that, by now, the January death count from flu or flu-related pneumonia in Florida has exceeded 1,000.” —Report
North Carolina flu deaths climb to 114, deadliest in five years: Report
“There were 15 flu-related deaths in the week ending Jan. 17, bringing the total to 114, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services.” —Report
Oklahoma breaks last year’s record for flu deaths
At least 82 Oklahomans have died from flu since September 2014, including 14 in the past week, with 1,789 others hospitalized with the virus, with three more months of flu season to go. The state reported a total of 71 deaths from flu last year.
Arkansas Flu Deaths Climb to 37: Health Officials
Since September 28, when the flu calendar starts, more than 21,600 tests have proved positive for flu viruses in Arkansas including 1,700, which were reported last week alone, according to an official report.
196 flu deaths reported in Hong Kong
An H3N2 outbreak in Hong Kong, which started on January 2, 2015, has left at least 280 hospitalized, killing 196 patients. The rate compares with 266 cases including 133 moralities during the same period last year, said Hong Kong health officials.
Health authorities said of the 16 new cases reported between Friday and Saturday 15 patients have died.
India: 78 swine flu deaths in 24 hours
Swine flu death toll in India has climbed to at least 485. “This is more than twice the total number of deaths due to swine flu in 2014. The total number of cases reported this year is 6,298,” said a report.
Quebec Fears Spike in Flu Deaths
Quebec’s health ministry says there could be 27 per cent more flu deaths in the province this year than in 2012-2013, said a report.
The ministry forecasts a total of up to 450 deaths from flu this season, about 50 per cent higher than normal. This is mainly due to this year’s ineffective flu vaccine. The H3N2 strain that’s been making the rounds in the province is more likely to cause respiratory complications, said the report.
The exact number of people who die from seasonal flu in the U.S. each year
CDC does not know exactly how many people die from seasonal flu each year. There are several reasons for this. First, states are not required to report individual seasonal flu cases or deaths of people older than 18 years of age to CDC. Second, seasonal influenza is infrequently listed on death certificates of people who die from flu-related complications. Third, many seasonal flu-related deaths occur one or two weeks after a person’s initial infection, either because the person may develop a secondary bacterial co-infection (such as bacterial pneumonia) or because seasonal influenza can aggravate an existing chronic illness (such as congestive heart failure or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). Also, most people who die from seasonal flu-related complications are not tested for flu, or they seek medical care later in their illness when seasonal influenza can no longer be detected from respiratory samples.
CDC estimates that from the 1976-1977 season to the 2006-2007 flu season, flu-associated deaths ranged from a low of about 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people. Death certificate data and weekly influenza virus surveillance information was used to estimate how many flu-related deaths occurred among people whose underlying cause of death was listed as respiratory or circulatory disease on their death certificate.