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February 1, 2017

CDC: Pneumonia and flu deaths have reached epidemic levels

Daily Briefing

Deaths from pneumonia and influenza have hit epidemic levels, according to a CDC report released Friday.

CDC's latest "FluView" report includes data on pneumonia and flu mortality rates, as well as flu cases reported in the United States through Jan. 21, which CDC considers to be week three of the 2016-2017 flu season.

Report findings

For the report, CDC used National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) mortality surveillance data available on Jan. 26 to determine that 7.4 percent of U.S. deaths that occurred in the week ending Jan. 7 resulted from pneumonia and the flu. That proportion was higher than the NCHS Mortality Surveillance System's "system-specific epidemic threshold" of 7.3 percent for week one of the current flu season, according to CDC. The report stated there have been eight pediatric flu-related deaths so far this season.

According to the report, there have been 4,317 lab-confirmed flu-associated hospitalizations in the United States as of Jan. 21, up from 2,864 reported cases as of Jan. 14. CDC estimated there have been 15.4 flu-associated hospitalizations per 100,000 U.S. residents during this flu season as of Jan. 21. Nationwide, flu-like illness accounted for 3.4 percent of outpatient provider visits in the country as of Jan. 21, which exceeds the national baseline of 2.2 percent.

The report stated that the flu was widespread in 37 states and Puerto Rico, while the remaining states and Washington, D.C., have reported flu as a "regional" or "local" problem.

According to the report, New York City and 10 states reported high flu-like activity through Jan. 21:

  • Alabama;
  • Georgia;
  • Kansas;
  • Louisiana;
  • Minnesota;
  • Missouri;
  • New Jersey;
  • Oklahoma;
  • South Carolina; and
  • Tennessee.

CDC said U.S. residents who have not already been vaccinated for the flu should do so (Mohney, ABC News, 1/27; CDC, "FluView," accessed 1/31; Howell, Washington Times, 1/30; Punke, Becker's Infection Control & Clinical Quality, 1/27; Crummel, ABC 27, 1/30; CBS Boston, 1/30).

How to achieve universal employee flu vaccination

In just a few years, Einstein Healthcare Network's employee flu vaccination rate skyrocketed from 30 percent to consistently greater than 97 percent. Learn how they did it.


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