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Reported US Pediatric Flu Deaths Increase To 41
Recombinomics Commentary 10:15
January 16, 2013

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said Tuesday that one of the latest child deaths was in Denver and the other was in El Paso County. The earlier cases were in Denver and Jefferson County.

Health officials have reported the first flu death in Delaware in the 2012-2013 flu season.
The Division of Public Health said Tuesday that a 2-month-old girl from New Castle County had died. Officials did not say when the infant died.

The above comments describe three more lab confirmed pediatric deaths (in Colorado and Delaware), which increase the number of reported deaths to 41, more than double the number reported in the week 1 CDC FluView (see list below). 

Although one or two of these cases may never be reported by the CDC due to a lack of lab confirmation, the vast majority of the cases have been lab confirmed and most of the cases not yet lab confirmed are under investigation.  Thus, for the week 48 case (17F) in Ohio, flu complications were listed in the patient's obituary, but the case is unlikely to be added.  In contrast, the unconfirmed case in week 2 (4M) has had an autopsy, which notes that the results were consistent with a viral infection. Moreover, the child had a headache and sore throat prior to going to bed on the night of his death.  Thus, it is likely that this case will be lab confirmed, which is true for most or all of the cases listed in week 1 or 2 which are not reported to be lab confirmed at this time.

The 17 cases reported this year that are not included in the CDC tally of 20 deaths strongly suggests that the total for this season will be comparable to high numbers reported for the 2003-04 and 2007-08 seasons, which had 153 and 88 deaths, respectively.  The CDC issued an update to pediatricians which noted the 20 deaths reported in week 1, but ignored the large number of lab confirmed deaths reported by state labs, but not cited in FluView.  These delays in reporting are common at the beginning of the calendar year due to holidays.  This delay impacted the January 11 CDC telebriefing, which cited a dip in cases, which is common at this time of year. 

Although the CDC stated a caveat in the teleconference and the header in the week 1 FluView, media reports cited the artifact as a possible turning point in the current season.  This change was not reflected in most United States locations (states and cities) monitored by Google Flu Trends, which shows a dramatic rise in influenza-like illness terms used  in searches, that were at the intense level before and after the recent increase in media coverage.

FluView pediatric cases
Wk   #    Location
01    2    KS TX
52    2    MI NY
51    8    AR FL ME MI(2) TX WA WI
50    2    NJ
49    1    TX
48    3    IN FL SC
46    1    TX
41    1    TN

Pediatric deaths not in FluView
02   10   MA NE NY TX* TX* OH* OH CO* CO* DE*
01    7    MI* MN* NE* NY* PA SC* TX*
52    1    IN*
50    2    CO*  CO*
48    1    OH

* = Lab Confimed

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