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US Pneumonia & Influenza Death Rate Spikes to Epidemic Levels
Recombinomics Commentary 11:30
September 29, 2011

Tomorrow’s week 38 MMWR will report a spike in the Pneumonia and Influenza (P&I) death rate to 6.51%, which is at or above the epidemic threshold, even though only 3 confirmed cases of influenza were reported in the CDC’s week 37 FluView.  In week 37 the CDC eliminated the trH3N2 unsubtypables reported in week 33 and week 34 raising serious concerns about the CDC cutoffs for influenza A positive cases.

The CDC had previously reported 4 trH3N2 cases (in Indiana and Pennsylvania) and two of the four had been listed as unsubtypable, which would have been due to registering a influenza A positive, but negative for seasonal H3 or pandemic H1.  The week 37 report had eliminated the two unsubtypable, raising concern that these cases were being reported a false negatives and therefore removed from FluView reports.  These adjustment were accompanied by a report of just 3 confirmed cases for the entire country, in spite of increase in Google FluTrends for multiple US cities, as well is a spike in ILI cases as a percentage of emergency department visits in Minnesota.

Thus, alternate measures of influenza cases and deaths indicated the 3 cases reported for week 37 in FluView were a gross underestimate of flu activity in the United States, and the increase in the P&I death rate raised additional concern that widespread trH3N2 cases were being falsely reported as influenza A negatives.

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