Influenza-associated pediatric deaths (October 5, 2012-present)
Week 12-47 Total to Date
Wisconsin 0 0
United States 0 2
Here are a few articles I found:
December 9, 2012
The state Division of Public Health reported four flu-related deaths and 26 hospitalizations as of Dec. 4. No hospitalizations had been reported by this time last year.
There have been 113-laboratory confirmed influenza cases reported in Wisconsin so far this season, compared to seven by this time in 2011
The dominant flu strain this year is H3N2, a more severe strain that has been around since 1968, according to Dr. Ed Belongia, director of the Epidemiology Research Center at the Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation.
About five times more influenza tests have been performed at the Clinic so far in 2012 than were performed by the same time in 2011. http://www.jsonline.com/news/wisconsin/flu-season-starts-out-early-deadly-gj7t0ec-181941371.html
More, from the article
Public health officials aren't sure what's behind the uptick in hospitalizations so early in the season.
A previously seen influenza A H3N2 strain - the dominant strain so far this flu season - appeared to be a good match for the current vaccine, said Paul Biedrzycki, director of disease control and environmental health for the Milwaukee Health Department. "However, you can't rule out a possible mutation in the flu virus," Biedrzycki said Monday. "Flu viruses change unexpectedly and arbitrarily."
During the 2003-'04 flu season, more than 48,000 people died nationwide. The dominant flu then is the same dominant strain seen so far this season - A/H3N2 (the same subtype as Hong Kong flu) - according to the CDC. This influenza strain generally causes more severe flu seasons. It's related to the Hong Kong pandemic strain, which caused nearly 34,000 deaths in the United States in 1968 and 1969. That was the last pandemic before the 2009 swine flu pandemic (also known as H1N1).
Scientists are now investigating whether the genes of the seasonal A/H3N2 could have mutated, resulting in a more severe and/or more easily transmissible flu not covered exactly by the flu vaccine developed six to eight months ago, Biedrzycki said. "It has to be a change in the bug or a change in susceptibility, which could include low vaccination rates," he said. Of the first 12 influenza-related hospitalizations this season in Wisconsin, three-fourths had not received flu shots, Haupt said. Four of the 12 were ages 18 to 49, two were ages 50 to 64, and six were 65 or older. Those who did get the shot but developed flu complications anyway did not gain full protection from the flu shot. Information on the 14 others hospitalized was not immediately available.