March 23, 2013
More Than 100 Children Have Died From The Flu This Year: CDC
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online
US health officials are reporting that this year´s flu season is winding down, but in its wake, it has resulted in more than 100 deaths among children — most of whom had not been vaccinated against the illness.
That´s more than triple the number of children who died during last year´s flu season, report Liz Szabo and Elizabeth Weise of USA Today, but “about the average toll” for the age group, noted AP Medical Writer Mike Stobbe.
Approximately 100 kids die annually during an average flu season, with one prime exception coming during the 2009-10 swine flu pandemic, in which there were 348 fatalities amongst children, Stobbe said. More remarkably, 90 percent of the 2012-13 victims had not received flu vaccines — “a remarkable number,” CDC Influenza Division medical officer Michael Jhung told USA Today on Friday.
The CDC recommends all children at least six months of age be vaccinated against the influenza virus, but according to Szabo and Weise, only 52 percent of American kids received the flu shots this year.
Of those who died, the CDC reported only 60 percent were at high risk from flu complications, either because they were under two years old or had pre-existing medical conditions. That means two-fifths were considered reasonably healthy. Only four were not old enough to receive a vaccination, according to the AP.
The flu season, which started in December — earlier than usual — was deemed “moderately severe” according to the USA Today, with parts of Pennsylvania, Maryland, Illinois, and the upper Midwest being among the hardest-hit areas.
However, in their latest report on flu activity, the CDC reported flu activity had declined throughout most regions of the US for the week ending March 16, said HealthDay News reporter Steven Reinberg.
The health agency said overall activity remained elevated, but that Michigan was the only state to report high levels of flu activity during the week. Five states (Alabama, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey and Virginia) reported moderate activity and six others (Indiana, Louisiana, Minnesota, Montana, South Dakota and Utah) experienced low activity levels. The remaining 38 states reported minimal influenza activity, Reinberg said.
“This flu season has been especially tough on older people, with slightly more than 50 percent of hospitalizations involving those 65 years and older,” he added. “There is no system to report adult deaths from the flu, but the agency said the number of deaths remains higher than the threshold used to declare a flu epidemic.”