CDC: 3,000 to 49,000 Flu Deaths Per Year

ATLANTA, Aug. 26 (UPI) — From the 1976-1977 influenza season to the 2006-2007 season, some 3,000 to 49,000 have died annually from influenza in the United States, health officials say.

“Our major point today really is just to, again, point out the incredible variability of influenza seasons,” lead author Dr. David Shay said in a telephone news conference Thursday.

“The updated estimates encompass data from 31 seasons until 2006-’07 influenza season, which is the last date we have death certificate data and that range is from about 3,000 deaths in the 1986-’87 season to a maximum, of about 49,000 deaths in the 2003-2004 season.”

The study provides more specific numbers on the average 36,000 annual deaths from influenza that has been reported by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We look at death certificates here at CDC that go into at least two categories, pneumonia and influenza and respiratory and circulatory causes, and we use a statistical modeling approach to estimate how many of those deaths might be influenza associated,” Shay said.

“We also look at the specific strain or influenza strains that are in circulation, sort of the length of the season or how long influenza is circulating in the United States, how many people get sick, because as the more people get sick, there is more likely to be more serious outcomes, and finally, who gets sick.”

The study is published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

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