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For the sixth successive week the number of deaths reported in 106 major cities has exceeded the 3-year median for the corresponding week, 1950-52. This rise in mortality is associated with the sharply increased incidence of respiratory diseases, including influenza. For the 6-week period ended February 7, a total of 69,391 deaths was reported, 14 percent more than the total of 60,887 deaths for the 6 corresponding weekly 3-year medians. The excess for the current week, ended February 7, was 26 percent.
The figures reported represent the number of death certificates received in the vital statistics offices during the week indicated, for deaths occurring in that city. Figures compiled in this way, by week of receipt, usually approximate closely the number of deaths occurring during the week. However, differences are to be expected because of variations in the interval
between death and receipt of the certificate.
While week-to-week changes in the total number of deaths reported for all major cities generally represent a change in mortality conditions, this may not be true for variations in weekly figures for each city. For example, in a city where 50 deaths are the weekly average, the number of deaths occurring in a week may be expected to vary by chance alone from 36 to 64 (d ± 2Vd, where d represents the average number of deaths per week).
The number of deaths in cities of the same size may also differ because of variations in the age, race, and sex composition of their populations, and because some cities are hospital centers serving the surrounding areas. Changes from year to year in the number of deaths may be due in part to population increases or decreases.
Provisional Information on Selected Notifiable Diseases in the United States for
During the first 6 weeks of 1953, a total of 887 cases of meningococcal infections has been reported in the United States as compared with 689 for the corresponding period of 1952. Of the total reported this year, more than half of the cases were in the South Atlantic States (216) and 4 other widely separated States--California (84), Texas (58), New York (53), and Ohio (46). For the first 6 weeks of 1952 there were 120 cases in the South Atlantic States, and a total of 201 in the other 4 States. The incidence of the disease appears to be on the decline in California. However, it is increasing in the South Atlantic States and many other States throughout the country. Although the incidence of the disease for the country as a whole has decreased during the past 2 weeks, it usually increases in general at this time of year, and reaches its peak during March or the first 2 weeks of April.
The following reports have been received by the influenza Information Center, N.I.H., and the National Office of Vital Statistics.
Dr. Evelyn Rogers, New York State District Health Officer, states that on February 4, a report indicated an unusual incidence of an influenza-like disease in Morrisville during the previous 2 weeks. Dr. Matthias, local health officer, stated that 14 percent of the children were absent from school at the peak of the epidemic. In one group of individuals the disease was characterized by fever, malaise, cough, and pain in the chest. Two persons developed jaundice. Dr. Raymond Fear, District State Health Officer, reported a high absentee rate in some schools in Dutchess County but in Poughkeepsie there was no indication of abnormal absentee ism rate in schools, or in a large industrial plant. Dr. Harold Abramson, New York City Department of Health, has investigated and reported 5 cases of respiratory illness which occurred in the period from December 20 to January 20 in a group of 62 children living in an institution in Queens. Four of the 5 showed a rise in complement fixation titer to influenza virus type A (PR-8), but due to lack of availability of antigen, no test could be made of Aprime.
Dr. Albert Milzer, Michael Reese Hospital, Chicago, has reported serological identifications of influenza A-prime in 4 patients since January 15.
Deaths From Influenza and Pneumonia for 58 Selected Cities, by Weeks
Dr. S. J. Phillips, Louisiana State Health Officer, reports a continued downward trend in influenza in all but 2 parishes. Complications continue to be low, but in Jefferson Parish a complication rate of 35 percent has been noted. A total of 12 deaths in the State from influenza had been reported up to February 12, and 3 of these were in Webster Parish. The influenza type A previously reported has been identified at Tulane University by hemagglutination-inhibition tests using 1950 A-prime antisera. One virus isolation and 3 paired sera are reported as A-prime from persons in Richland Parish; 2 virus isolations from Caddo Parish, l'type A-prime and the other untyped; and 1 isolation of A-prime virus from Orleans.
There was a 10 percent increase in the number of deaths from influenza and pneumonia reported in 58 cities for the week ended February 7 as compared with a 20 percent increase for the previous week. The total number of deaths for the first week of February was 610. For the previous 2 weeks the totals were 463 and 554. The numbers reported in these cities by geographic division for the week ended February 7, with figures for the previous week in parentheses, were: New England, 32 (26); Middle Atlantic, 180 (177); East North Central, 112 (61); West North Central, 91 (95); South Atlantic, 67 (47); East South Central, 40 (46); West South Central, 57 (57); Mountain, 8 (29); and Pacific, 23 (16). For the fifth consecutive week an increase in the number of deaths from influenza and pneumonia has been reported by this
group of cities. The number for the week ended February 7 is higher than for any one week during the influenza epidemics of the previous 3 years. (See accompanying chart.) For instance, the largest number of deaths from influenza and pneumonia in 1951 was 527 for the week ended March 17, 439 in 1950 for the week ended March 25, and 372 in 1952 for the week ended March 15. The influenza epidemics of 1950 and 1951 were A-prime, and in 1952 there was an influenza B type of infection.
Information received from 8 cities for the week ended February 14, on age distribution of deaths from influenza and pneumonia, indicates that a larger proportion of the deaths occurred to persons 65 years of age and over than was the case earlier in January. This is even more evident when data for New York City are not included with the 7 cities in the central part of the country. Over 80 percent of the deaths attributed to influenza alone were among persons 65 years of age and over for the week ended February 14.
These data on influenza and pneumonia deaths in 58 cities, in conjunction with other figures on deaths from all causes in about 100 selected cities, suggest that the current outbreak of influenza is not quite as mild as first reports seemed to indicate. Not only is the number of deaths attributed to influenza and pneumonia greater than in the past 3 years, but the number of deaths from all causes in the 100 cities is about 8,000, or 15 percent, in excess of the 3-year median for the first 5 weeks of the year.
COMPARATIVE DATA FOR CASES OF SPECIFIED NOTIFIABLE DISEASES: UNITED STATES (Numbers after diseases are category numbers of the Sixth Revision of the International Lists, 1948)
Symbols.-1 dash [-]: no cases reported; asterisk [+] disease stated not notifiable; parentheses,
in total; 3 hes data not available.
: data not included