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CDC's Revised Influenza Death Estimates Show Wide Variation

In last three decades, annual death rate has ranged from about 3,300 to more than 48,000

FRIDAY, Aug. 27 (HealthDay News) -- From 1976 through 2007, the number of annual influenza-related deaths in the United States ranged from 3,349 to 48,614, according to a report published in the Aug. 27 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

M.G. Thompson, Ph.D., of the CDC in Atlanta, and colleagues used statistical models with data from death certificates to update estimates of influenza-associated deaths during 1976 to 2003 by adding four influenza seasons -- through 2006/2007.

The researchers found that from 1976 to 2007, the estimates of annual influenza-associated deaths due to respiratory and circulatory causes (including both pneumonia and influenza causes) ranged from 3,349 in 1986/1987 to 48,614 in 2003/2004. The yearly rate of influenza-associated death ranged from a low of 1.4 to a high of 16.7 deaths per 100,000 individuals. The findings indicated that the wide range in the yearly estimates was strongly related to which influenza types were in circulation each season. When influenza A(H3N2) circulating strains were prominent, 2.7 times more deaths occurred than when these strains were not prominent.

"Annual influenza vaccination is the best way to reduce the risk for complications from influenza infections and is now recommended for all persons aged ≥6 months in the United States," the authors write.

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