Estimated Flu Incidence of 90 Million for 2008 in Under-5s

Nearly all flu-associated acute lower respiratory infection deaths occur in developing countries

FRIDAY, Nov. 11 (HealthDay News) -- In 2008, there were an estimated 90 million new cases of influenza in children younger than 5 years of age, according to a review published online Nov. 11 in The Lancet.

Harish Nair, D.N.B., from the University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom, and colleagues reviewed available literature and 16 unpublished population-based studies from 1995 to 2010 to assess the incidence of influenza episodes, influenza-associated acute lower respiratory infections (ALRI), and influenza-associated severe ALRI in children younger than 5 years. Incidence estimates from 43 studies, including approximately eight million children, were applied to global population estimates to obtain estimates for 2008. The possible bounds of influenza-associated ALRI mortality were calculated by combining estimates of incidence with case-fatality ratios from hospital-based reports.

The investigators estimated that, in 2008, in children younger than 5, there were 90 million new cases of influenza, 20 million cases of influenza-associated ALRI, and one million cases of influenza-associated severe ALRI worldwide. There were an estimated 28,000 to 111,500 deaths attributable to influenza-associated ALRI in 2008, 99 percent of which occurred in developing countries. There was substantial variation for incidence and mortality from year to year in any individual setting.

"Influenza is a common pathogen identified in children with ALRI and results in a substantial burden on health services worldwide," the authors write.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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