Twenty Children Dead in US Flu Epidemic

By Vickie Frantz, Staff Writer
January 15, 2013; 5:01 AM
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An agressive flu strain has spread quickly across the country. Forty-seven states have widespread cases, twenty children are dead and flu cases haven't peaked yet in some states.

Dr. David Rosenberg, a pediatric pulmonologist interviewed by Good Morning America said, "It's been an epidemic and there've been a lot of admissions from the flu, more than ever."

Stats: Influenza-Associated Pediatric Mortality

According to the CDC, in the previous week some key flu activity indicators continued to rise, while others fell. It's too soon to say exactly what this means; but some regions may have peaked, while other parts of the country are still on the upswing.

Forty-seven states reported widespread geographic influenza activity for the week between December 30, 2012 and January 5, 2013. This is an increase from 41 states in the previous week.

This is an increase in cases since last week when the percentage of positive flu cases nationwide was 29.6 percent. The current baseline of outpatient visits for influenza-like illnesses is 5.6 percent which is above the national baseline of 2.2 percent.

The national baseline is determined by calculating the mean percentage of patient visits to health care providers for influenza-like illnesses (a temperature of 100 degrees F [37.8 degrees C] or greater and a cough and/or a sore throat without a known cause other than influenza) during non-influenza weeks for the previous three seasons and adding two standard deviations.

This map represents the CDC reported influenza-like illness levels by state for the week ending on Jan. 5.

The CDC began recording pediatric deaths in 2004, following 153 pediatric deaths reported during the 2003-04 influenza season. At the time of this report, 20 pediatric deaths have been attributed to influenza. The total pediatric deaths attributed to influenza last season were 34.

The CDC closely monitors influenza cases nationwide from October through mid-May. However, there is no official period of time determined to be the flu season. Cases of influenza in the U.S. typically peak during January.

The best way to prevent infection by influenza is to get a flu shot.


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