Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Is this a very severe flu season?/ WP and CDC

Today's Washington Post headline reads "‘Swine flu’ strain returns; dramatic rise in deaths of young adults, children." But the data do not bear this out.

Swine flu isn't really "back"-- since 2009, it never left, but there are more cases this year than the last two, relative to other flu strains.  After the 2009-10 swine flu epidemic, two studies I saw suggested that at least 60% of the population developed antibodies (presumed immunity) to the disease.  Which begs the question whether all the measured antibodies were effective at preventing H1N1 swine flu.

What is CDC saying about this year's epidemic?  Influenza is winding down in most parts of the country.  In Maine, where I live, it never really got going.  

This graph plots the percent of outpatient visits to medical providers for flu-like illnesses. It looks like an average year.  And we are well past the peak.

national levels of ILI and ARI
Here are pediatric deaths by week.  Again, an average year.

Click on image to launch interactive tool
And in this chart, CDC looks at deaths due to either pneumonia and/or influenza in a select group of cities.  Again, it looks like an average year.

Pneumonia And Influenza Mortality

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