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Spike In US Pneumonia and Influenza Deaths in Week 37
Recombinomics Commentary 20:40
September 24, 2010

In  Week 37 Pneumonia and Influenza deaths in the US spiked higher.  The rate of 6.87% was well above the Week 37 epidemic threshold of 6.4% and also well above last week’s rate of 5.92% or last year’s Week 37 rate of 6.07%.  Details are not available because the CDC does not issue weekly reports until week 40. 

However, the CDC did issue an H3N2 alert in August because of two small outbreaks in eastern Iowa, and media reports are describing an ongoing influenza A outbreak in London, Ontario.  This outbreak is at an extended care facility and is likely to be H3N2 because of the age of the residents. 

Pandemic H1N1 rarely affects those over 65 because of similarities with pandemic H1N1 from 1918 or seasonal H1N1 prior to the 1950’s.  Those over 65 are still protected by the antibodies made when younger.  Thus, last year over 90% of H1N1 fatalities were younger than 65, while over 90% of those who die from seasonal , like H3N2 are over 65 and since H1N1 crowded out H3N2 last year, elderly flu deaths declined.

The decline in elderly patient’s deaths last year has led to an increase in those at risk this year, and an early flu season start may be contributing to the spike in deaths for Week 37.  As levels of pandemic H1N1 increase, then number of deaths under 65 will also rise.  Thus, the number of Pneumonia and Influenza deaths in the 2010/2011 season may be at record levels.

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