CDC Says 93 Children Have Died With Evidence of Flu Since Oct. 2003...And 44% Had No Known Underlying Medical Conditions
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(January 8, 2004) -- CDC reports that since October 2003, 93 children under age 18 have died with evidence of influenza virus infection...and 44% had no known underlying medical conditions.
The grim statistics are cited in the January 9 edition of CDC's Mortality and Morbidity Weekly Report, which notes that pneumonia was the most frequently reported complication, followed by invasive bacterial co-infections, including some staph resistant bacteria and other pathogens.
Flu vaccination status was known for 45 of the 93 fatally stricken children...and of those 73% were not vaccinated. However, at least one death was reported for a child adequately vaccinated and five more deaths were reported among those vaccinated for whom the interval between vaccination and illness onset was simply not documented.
CDC's Jan. 9 MMWR states in pertinent part:
The median age of the 93 children was 4 years (range: 4 weeks--17 years), with 55 (59%) children aged <5 years and 24 (26%) aged 6-23 months...A total of 35 (38%) of the 93 children were reported to have had underlying chronic medical conditions...and and 41 (44%) were reported to have had no underlying conditions; the medical history was unknown for 17 (18%) children...
Pneumonia was a reported complication in 25 of the 93 children. Invasive bacterial co-infections were reported in 15 children, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Streptococcus pyogenes, Enterococcus sp., Haemophilus influenzae (type b and non-typable), Neisseria meningitidis, Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Klebsiella pneumoniae, and Serratia marcescens.
Of the 45 children whose influenza vaccination status was reported, one child had evidence of adequate vaccination, whereas 33 (73%) were not vaccinated, and six children were partially vaccinated (i.e., they had received 1 of 2 doses); five children were reported as vaccinated, but the interval between vaccination and onset of illness was not documented...
Because laboratory-confirmed influenza illnesses and deaths among children are not nationally reportable conditions, the numbers of deaths reported this season cannot be compared directly with previous influenza seasons, and the proportion of illnesses associated with death cannot be estimated. Heightened awareness of severe complications and deaths associated with influenza among children this season and increased testing might be contributing to identification of more pediatric fatalities related to influenza than in previous seasons...
To view CDC's MMWR report in its entirety, click on MMWR Jan. 9, 2004 report
CDC's web site has also added three measures it says school age children and school staff should take to help slow the spread of colds and flu:
Cough or sneeze into a tissue and throw it away;
- Cover up with a sleeve if you don't have a tissue, and
- Clean hands often.
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