Researchers find increase in global mortality rates associated with seasonal flu

December 21, 2017 by Melva Robertson, Emory University

A multinational study that analyzed data from 47 countries over 15 years shows a worldwide increase in annual deaths caused by seasonal influenza-related respiratory illnesses. Published in The Lancet, the study was conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and global partners in collaboration with Emory's Rollins School of Public Health.

A. Danielle Iuliano, Ph.D., adjunct professor at Rollins, is lead author of the paper and the paper. Howard Chang, Ph.D., associate professor at Rollins, is lead statistician.

The researchers report that between 291,000 and 646,000 worldwide die from seasonal flu-related illnesses annually. Previous estimates placed this number at 250,000 to 500,000. The estimate excludes deaths during pandemics.

"This work adds to a growing global understanding of the burden of influenza and populations at highest risk," says Iuliano. "It builds the evidence base for influenza vaccination programs in other countries."

The new estimates were calculated using records and seasonal influenza surveillance information from 47 countries from the years 1999-2015. Researchers calculated region-specific estimates and age-specific mortality estimates for people younger than 65, people 65-74, and people 75 and older. They found that the greatest flu mortality burden was seen in the world's poorest regions and among older adults. People age 75 and older and people living in sub-Saharan African countries experienced the highest rates of flu-associated respiratory deaths. Eastern Mediterranean and Southeast Asian countries had slightly lower but still high rates of flu-associated respiratory deaths.

Despite World Health Organization recommendations to use flu vaccination to help protect people in high-risk populations, few developing countries have seasonal flu vaccination programs or the capacity to produce and distribute seasonal or pandemic vaccines.

Explore further: Influenza estimated to kill about 400 New Zealanders each year

Related Stories

Influenza estimated to kill about 400 New Zealanders each year

November 24, 2014
New Zealand has an average of 401 influenza-associated deaths each year according to estimates published for the first time. This is an average annual mortality rate of 10.6 per 100,000 population.

Annual influenza vaccination does not prevent natural immunity

November 14, 2017
Earlier studies have suggested that having repeated annual influenza vaccination can prevent natural immunity to the virus, and potentially increase the susceptibility to influenza illness in the event of a pandemic, or when ...

Seasonal influenza vaccination during pregnancy may reduce risk of stillbirth

March 31, 2016
Seasonal influenza vaccination may guard against stillbirth, a new study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases and available online suggests. Researchers in Western Australia analyzed data from nearly 60,000 births that ...

Researchers look at benefits of flu vaccines in the elderly

October 17, 2013
New research at the University of Notre Dame looks more closely at the effects of the influenza vaccine on the elderly, who are considered the highest-risk group for influenza-related mortality.

Season influenza vaccination of children predicted to be highly cost-effective in Thailand

May 26, 2015
Seasonal influenza vaccination of children is likely to represent good short-term value for money in Thailand, according to a study published this week in PLOS Medicine. The study, led by Aronrag Meeyai of the Health Intervention ...

Recommended for you

Creation of synthetic horsepox virus could lead to more effective smallpox vaccine

January 19, 2018
UAlberta researchers created a new synthetic virus that could lead to the development of a more effective vaccine against smallpox. The discovery demonstrates how techniques based on the use of synthetic DNA can be used to ...

Study ends debate over role of steroids in treating septic shock

January 19, 2018
The results from the largest ever study of septic shock could improve treatment for critically ill patients and save health systems worldwide hundreds of millions of dollars each year.

New approach could help curtail hospitalizations due to influenza infection

January 18, 2018
More than 700,000 Americans were hospitalized due to illnesses associated with the seasonal flu during the 2014-15 flu season, according to federal estimates. A radical new approach to vaccine development at UCLA may help ...

Zika virus damages placenta, which may explain malformed babies

January 18, 2018
Though the Zika virus is widely known for a recent outbreak that caused children to be born with microencephaly, or having a small head, and other malformations, scientists have struggled to explain how the virus affects ...

Certain flu virus mutations may compensate for fitness costs of other mutations

January 18, 2018
Seasonal flu viruses continually undergo mutations that help them evade the human immune system, but some of these mutations can reduce a virus's potency. According to new research published in PLOS Pathogens, certain mutations ...

Study reveals how MRSA infection compromises lymphatic function

January 17, 2018
Infections of the skin or other soft tissues with the hard-to-treat MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) bacteria appear to permanently compromise the lymphatic system, which is crucial to immune system function. ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.