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Pneumonia and Influenza Death Toll In El Paso Increases To 106

Recombinomics Commentary 20:15
June 5, 2011

The week 21 Pneumonia and Influenza (P&I) deaths for El Paso, Texas set another weekly record.  The 13 deaths raised the total for the past 8 weeks to 106. Thus, in the past 8 weeks, record levels were reported for weeks 14, 15, 18, 19, 20 and 21.  Thus, even though week 21 is after the official end of the 2010/2011 flu season for the northern hemisphere, deaths in El Paso remain at record double digit levels. The P&I death rate for these eight weeks continues at a rate that is above 12%, which is more than 1.5 times the national epidemic threshold for the period.

The spike in deaths began in week 14, when the 19 reported deaths were 1 death shy of the weekly record reported for El Paso in the past 15 years at the CDC website, which maintains the weekly data fro the top 122 cities in the US over the past 15 years.  The record of 20 was broken in week 15, when 24 deaths were reported.  The numbers declined in weeks 16 and 17, but a new weekly record has been set for each of the past 4 weeks, even though lab confirmed cases have steadily declined to baseline levels as the flu season ended.

The record number of P&I deaths in El Paso has not been addressed by local or national agencies and these high levels are not reflected in lab confirmed cases raising concerns that the sampling and associated testing grossly under estimates the number of influenza deaths, particularly for H1N1.  In the past 8 weeks the number of deaths in the 25-64 age group has been over represented, providing additional data linking the spike in deaths to unreported / undetected H1N1 infections, consistent with the linkage between the start of the increases and the outbreak of Chihuahua H1N1 across the border in Juarez, Mexico.

This outbreak lead to a pandemic alert, and the above data suggests that the cases are grossly under represented by the lab confirmed numbers.  The pandemic alert was linked to the detection of the D225N receptor binding domain (RBD) change in the upper respiratory tract of severe and fatal cases, but sequences demonstrating a high frequency of D225N in Chihuahua have been withheld.

The withholding of these sequences, and the lack of comment on the record number of deaths in El Paso, continue to raise pandemic concerns.

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