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In poking around the Arizona Department of Health Service website for Chinese coronavirus updates and advisories, I accidentally clicked out a level and found myself looking at all infectious diseases. So I clicked on the AZDHS influenza link, and boy was I surprised:
Who knew? Where were the big news stories? Clicking on the link led to a November press release that should have caused at least one or two breathless news segments: this year’s flu was targeting more children and young people! [emphasis added.]
The Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) reported today that influenza cases in Arizona have tripled compared to previous seasons at this time with more than half of reported cases this season in infants, children, and adolescents. So far this flu season 950 laboratory-confirmed influenza cases have been reported compared to 290 cases for the same time period in 2018. All counties in Arizona have reported influenza cases.
“The best thing you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones is to get your flu vaccine now if you haven’t already,” said Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services. “Influenza is a highly contagious respiratory illness that can cause mild to severe illness and can lead to hospitalization or even death. With the holidays right around the corner and people attending gatherings with friends and family, getting a flu shot today can help stop the spread of the disease.”
Now I check the CDC and find that Arizona was not reporting an anomaly:
And what about the profile of flu victims this year?
- Laboratory confirmed influenza associated hospitalization rates for the overall U.S. population remain moderate compared to recent seasons, but rates for children 0-4 years and adults 18-49 years are now the highest CDC has on record for these age groups, surpassing rates reported during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic. Hospitalization rates for school-aged children (5-17 years) are higher than any recent regular season but remain lower than rates experienced by this age group during the pandemic.
- Pneumonia and influenza mortality has been low, but 144 influenza-associated deaths in children have been reported so far this season. This number is higher for the same time period than in every season since reporting began in 2004-05, except for the 2009 pandemic.
Somehow, this is all perfectly normal, not worthy of headlines. No one is shouting questions about 22,000 deaths, let along howling about the obvious wild uncertainty in the numbers. Have there really been 55,000 flu deaths so far this year in the U.S.? During the H1N1 pandemic in 2009, the final estimates were “12,469 deaths (8868-18,306).”
Apparently 22,000 to 55,000 deaths from an infectious respiratory disease are acceptable to American medical experts if it happens over five months. There were no stories of doctors not treating patients in need, so the system is working. I appreciate Dr. Birx and President Trump’s repeated comments, noting that this is not acceptable and that we need to leverage the current media focus to get Americans to start really doing the basics better, so next year there are far fewer bad outcomes with the flu.Published in