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Emerg Themes Epidemiol. 2005 Jun 21;2:6.

Influenza associated excess mortality in Germany, 1985-2001.

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Swiss Federal Office of Public Health, Berne, Switzerland.


Influenza-associated excess mortality is widely used to assess the severity of influenza epidemics. In Germany, however, it is not yet established as a routine component of influenza surveillance. We therefore applied a simple method based on the annual distribution of monthly relative mortality (relative mortality distribution method, RMDM) to a time-series of German monthly all-cause mortality data from 1985-2001 to estimate influenza-associated excess mortality. Results were compared to those obtained by cyclical regression. Both methods distinguished stronger from milder influenza seasons, but RMDM gave the better fit (R2 = 0.80). For the years after reunification, i.e. 1990/91 through 2000/01, RMDM yielded an average of 6900 (conservative estimate) to 13,600 influenza-associated excess deaths per season (crude estimate). The most severe epidemics occurred during subtype A/H3N2 seasons. While German all-cause mortality declined over the study period, the number of excess deaths displayed an upward trend, coinciding with an increase of the proportion of the elderly population.

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