Mortality Rate Exceeds Epidemic Threshold as H1N1 Virus Persists, Says CDC
By Robert Lowes, Medscape Medical News
February 5, 2010 Ã¢â‚¬” The H1N1 influenza epidemic has waned since last fall, and influenza-like illness during the last week of January was below normal levels, but the death rate from influenza and pneumonia exceeded the epidemic threshold for the third week in a row, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced today.
Those deaths signal the need to not become complacent about getting vaccinated for the H1N1 virus, said Anne Schuchat, MD, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, at a press conference.
“We are remaining vigilant,” said Dr. Schuchat. “People are being hospitalized and dying. Vaccination is such an easy step to take.” With 124 million doses of H1N1 vaccine now shipped out, she noted, “it’s really easy to be vaccinated.”
Although H1N1 disease may have peaked last fall, the virus is still around, she said. “In the past several weeks there’s been a steady transmission, rather than a disappearance,” she said. “I think the virus will find susceptible people, particularly adults with chronic conditions and the elderly, who are much less protected because of lower vaccination rates and because there has been less disease in their community.”
She added that it was too difficult to predict whether the country will experience a third wave of H1N1 illness after the first wave last spring and the second wave last fall.