More Than 90 Children Have Died From Influenza This Season, CDC Reports
The number of children that have died from influenza since October increased to 93 this month from 42 last month, but according to CDC Director Julie Gerberding, "there is no way to determine whether this season is more severe for children than earlier years" because the illness is not nationally reported, the New York Times reports (Altman, New York Times, 1/9). "We don't have data from previous years to know if this represents an increase," Gerberding said, adding that the CDC has launched a number of studies to determine the impact of the flu on children this year. One CDC study estimated that an average of 92 children die each year from the flu (Stein, Washington Post, 1/9). According to the CDC, children that have died from the flu this year have ranged from ages four weeks to 17 years, with an average age of four years. Flu vaccination information was available for 45 of the 93 children, and of the 45, only one child was fully vaccinated, according to the CDC. Fifteen of the 93 children had bacterial infections, 25 had pneumonia and 35 had other medical problems, such as heart and lung disease, USA Today reports (Manning, USA Today, 1/9). The CDC has asked physicians to report flu deaths in patients younger than age 18 through local health departments and has asked state officials to consider proposals to make deaths from flu in children "routinely reportable," the New York Times reports. In addition, the CDC has asked physicians to submit viruses isolated from fatal flu cases to help determine "whether unusual characteristics are killing children," the New York Times reports (New York Times, 1/9). Gerberding called the number of flu deaths in children this year "a sad, sobering figure" but added, "We're hopeful we are past the peak" (Mestel, Los Angeles Times, 1/9). CNN's "American Morning" on Thursday interviewed National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci about the current flu season (Hemmer, "American Morning," CNN, 1/8). The complete transcript of the segment is available online. In addition, CNN reported on a press conference held by Gerberding on the current flu season (O'Brien, CNN, 1/8). A transcript of the segment is available online.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.