Deadly Communicable Disease Kills 15 Children in U.S.—More than Ebola

Thursday, January 01, 2015
(photo: Darron Cummings, AP)

The Ebola scare took over the news cycle for weeks last fall, but when all was said and done, it was responsible for only two deaths in the United States. Another disease that is far more communicable is already responsible for the deaths of 15 U.S. children but has received comparatively little attention.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that the flu is responsible for those deaths. Two-thirds of these fatalities have occurred in just two states: Tennessee, with six, and Minnesota, with four, according to U.S. News & World Report.


But every state can expect to report flu cases “within the next few weeks,” and the country will likely have more deaths from it, too, Dr. Michael Jhung, a medical officer in CDC’s influenza division, told the newsmagazine. Already 22 states and Puerto Rico have reported high flu intensity, according to The New York Times.


One problem, the CDC says, is the main flu strain going around (H3N2 virus) “is not well-matched to this year’s flu vaccine,” U.S. News’ Steven Reinberg wrote, leaving many people who were vaccinated still vulnerable. Another is that fewer people are getting vaccinated.


Among the tools being used to measure the severity of flu outbreaks is Google, where the number of searches for information about the flu correlates to the prevalence of the virus.

-Noel Brinkerhoff, Steve Straehley


To Learn More:

Flu Now Epidemic in U.S., With 15 Child Deaths Reported (by Steven Reinberg, U.S. News & World Report)

As Feared, It’s a Season of High Flu Intensity (by Margot Sanger-Katz, New York Times)

Flu (Influenza) (San Francisco Department of Public Health)

What You Should Know for the 2014-2015 Influenza Season (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Remember Tamiflu? Big Profits for Roche, but Little Help for Users (by Danny Biederman and Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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