HOUSTON, United States, Dec. 4 (Xinhua) -- The rate of A/H1N1-caused deaths in the United States continues to be higher than expected for this time of year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Friday.
"During Week 47 (ending Nov. 28), 7.2 percent of all deaths reported through the 122-Cities Mortality Reporting System were due to pneumonia and influenza (P&I). This percentage was above the epidemic threshold of 7.1 percent for Week 47," the U.S. federal agency said on its website.
"Including Week 47, the proportion of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza was above the epidemic threshold for the ninth consecutive week," the CDC added in its latest weekly report.
The latest statistics released by the CDC showed that from Aug.30 to Nov. 28, there were 31,320 laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated hospitalizations and 1,336 laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated deaths, including 189 of young patients under the age of 18 years that have been reported to the federal agency.
But health officials believe that actual death tolls have been much higher than the figures of laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated deaths.
Since it was first identified in April, the A/H1N1 flu has sickened an estimated 22 million Americans, hospitalized about 98,000 and killed 4,000, including 540 under 18, according to predictions released by the CDC last month.
"The estimates are actually much more accurate than the confirmed numbers," CDC director Dr. Thomas R. Frieden said on Friday.
"The number of confirmed deaths is really just a small proportion of the number of total deaths," he explained at a press conference.
On the whole, the CDC said on Friday that the A/H1N1 flu infections appear to be on the wane nationally.
The latest report showed that only 25 U.S. states are now reporting widespread flu activity, down from 32 states in the previous week and from 43 the week before.
The CDC officials said the downward trend of A/H1N1 flu activity does not necessarily mean the worst is over.
Flu activity might pick up in December, January and February, Dr. Frieden warned.
"It's not possible to accurately predict what's going to happen with influenza," he explained, adding that only time will tell what the rest of the season brings.
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