Record number of pneumonia and flu deaths

From the CDC:

During week 3, 8.3% of all deaths reported through the 122-Cities Mortality Reporting System were due to P&I.

The previous high number of pneumonia and influenza (P&I) deaths during the H1N1 pandemic was 8.2% in week 46 (mid-November), at the presumed height of the so-called “second wave”. Although H1N1 activity is reported to be relatively low in the US this past week, record deaths due to influenza and pneumonia are being reported. So what’s going on?

One possibility is that another virus, perhaps RSV, is causing these deaths. If so, this would be a major discovery since winter pneumonia deaths have been mostly attributed to influenza. A second possibility is that older people are now being infected with the new H1N1 virus, perhaps in relatively small numbers, but due to its much greater killing power in this age group, even a small number of infections are resulting in many deaths. Finally, it is possible there is a new version of H1N1 with a very high case fatality rate that is just starting to infect people.

Time will tell which of these possibilities is true. One thing we do know for sure, deaths have not peaked, yet.


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