With eighteen pediatric deaths attributed to the flu in the last week of October, the level of deaths reported from those with pneumonia and influenza continues to be, proportionally, "above the epidemic threshold," the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Friday. Eighty-five children, age four and under, have died from the flu - seasonal or otherwise - since the season began in late August, five weeks earlier than usual.
Dr. Toral Shah examines Sammi Jiminez, 4, in a tent clinic where patients with
flu symptoms are treated outside the emergency room at Dell Children's
Hospital in Austin, Texas, Sept. 28, 2009. (AP Photo/Harry Cabluck)
Though the month ended with reports of influenza like illness down from previous weeks, "ILI continues to be higher than what is seen during the peak of most regular flu seasons," the CDC said.
"It’s still way higher than we would see at this time of year, even though we had a slight downtick in that statistic," Dr. Anne Schuchat, Director, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases told reporters at the CDC, Friday. According to the agency, people with ILI symptoms are visiting their doctors "at much higher levels than what is expected for this time of the year."
Of the tens of thousands of ILI diagnoses that have come in to the CDC this season, 99 percent of them have been Influenza A, and of those that have been subtyped, nearly all have been the H1N1 virus.