Flu deaths likely to outpace 2016-17 season’s number, CDC study finds

A sharp drop in flu deaths has been revealed as part of a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study, which found that of the deaths caused by the flu during the previous 10 flu seasons, those caused by the 2016-17 season will actually surpass last year’s total.

Over 92,600 people were hospitalized with influenza in the U.S. during 2016-17, with more than 3,000 of those persons dying from the disease, according to the study.

Flu outbreaks usually peak around February and are followed by seasonal influenza activity in March and April, but the CDC report used 2010 data to estimate the date of peak influenza activity each year from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31.

The previous 10 flu seasons, during which the peak influenza activity was observed between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31 each year, averaged 84,203 flu-related hospitalizations, and 30,454 Americans died from the flu.

But the estimated deaths caused by the 2016-17 season, which included 16,639 hospitalizations and 2,920 deaths, are expected to surpass the 10 highest-yielding flu seasons, the report found.

The actual average number of deaths attributed to the 2012-13 season, which had 8,129 hospitalizations and 2,796 deaths, is likely to surpass the 2016-17 flu season, the report said.

At the same time, the figures for the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons, which had 7,871 and 8,712 hospitalizations and 3,556 and 3,037 deaths, respectively, are on par with the average rate for the 10 seasons with the most deaths attributed to them.

Based on those figures, the CDC report found that for the 2016-17 season to surpass last year’s flu-related hospitalizations and deaths, approximately 38,249 hospitalizations would need to occur and 4,379 deaths would need to be reported during the upcoming 2016-17 flu season.

The higher than average flu deaths seen in the 2016-17 season may have a cause, with CDC spokeswoman Barbara Reynolds said.

“A shared theory involves influenza type B that peaked in February,” Reynolds said. The reason for the higher increase in deaths could also be tied to an increased risk of cardiac disease due to dehydration, respiratory illness, influenza A, which often causes lower respiratory tract infections, and influenza B, she added.

To calculate the expected flu-related hospitalizations and deaths in 2016-17 and to determine when flu activity would peak, the CDC looked at a number of variables that include how much people in the past have caught the flu, the ages of people killed by the flu and how many people have died from the virus in a certain year.

The data used in the report were taken from National Center for Health Statistics data collected over a 12-year period.

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