In the midst of an epidemic, the number of deaths of all ages is much higher than the figures for last year. But the share of mortality due to influenza is not yet estimated.
The toll of the flu epidemic this winter will be “probably heavy”, estimated the Minister of Health, Marisol Touraine in mid-January. A forecast which is confirmed this Wednesday. According to the last epidemiological bulletin of Public health France, an increase in all-cause mortality has been observed since mid-December 2016 at the national level.
And even if we do not know if this is directly linked to the flu, “this increase concerns almost exclusively people aged 65 or over”, it is specified. Thus, the observed number of deaths of all ages is greater than the expected number by at least 20% over the last week of December and by 28% over the first week of January.
Influenza mortality not estimated
Over the first five weeks of the epidemic, the number of excess deaths (all causes) is thus estimated at 8,100 (1). But beware, here again “the share of mortality due to influenza cannot be estimated at present”, underline epidemiologists. Especially since this assessment is provisional and will surely increase. The national peak is indeed not reached.
In metropolitan France, last week, the incidence rate of cases of influenza-like illness seen in general medicine consultation was 437 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, or 285,000 new cases, above the epidemic threshold (178 cases per 100,000 residents).
During these first 6 weeks of the epidemic, 1,339,000 people would have consulted a general practitioner for this reason. Influenza activity now appears to be increasing in children (0-14 years).
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However, Public health France note for example a decrease in these iindicators in the elderly 65 years and over. In addition, the agency indicates that activity appears to be stabilizing in most regions. In Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, the decrease in influenza activity was even confirmed for the second consecutive week. And there is also a downward trend in activity in Normandy.
For the other departments, the flu epidemic continues. The highest incidence rates were observed in: Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur (775 cases per 100,000 inhabitants), Occitanie (598) and Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes (432). “All regions have an incidence rate above the national epidemic threshold for the first time this year,” the agency concludes.
(1) Data as of January 24, 2017 extrapolated to the whole of France