Why is the prevention of influenza important?

Updated: Sep 30, 2020
  • Author: Justina Gamache, MD; Chief Editor: Guy W Soo Hoo, MD, MPH  more...
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Answer

The influenza pandemic of 1918 was responsible for the deaths of approximately 40-50 million people worldwide (>600,000 deaths in the United States). Many of the deaths were likely due to secondary bacterial infection. [22]

With the 2009 H1N1 influenza A pandemic, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) mortality estimates ranged from 8,800 to 18,000 between April 2009 and April 2010. Similar to 1918, the vast majority of deaths occurred in individuals younger than 65 years. [70] Evaluation of 77 postmortem lung specimens by the CDC revealed that 29% of those that died also had evidence of bacterial coinfection. [71]

Such statistics highlight the importance of the prevention of influenza spread with vaccination and treatment with antiviral drugs as well as place focus on the diagnosis of, treatment of, and prophylaxis against bacterial pathogens with appropriate antibiotics and the pneumococcal vaccination. [22]


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