Estimating Influenza-associated Mortality in Korea: The 2009-2016 Seasons

J Prev Med Public Health. 2019 Sep;52(5):308-315. doi: 10.3961/jpmph.19.156. Epub 2019 Aug 23.


Objectives: Estimating influenza-associated mortality is important since seasonal influenza affects persons of all ages, causing severe illness or death. This study aimed to estimate influenza-associated mortality, considering both periodic changes and age-specific mortality by influenza subtypes.

Methods: Using the Microdata Integrated Service from Statistics Korea, we collected weekly mortality data including cause of death. Laboratory surveillance data of respiratory viruses from 2009 to 2016 were obtained from the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. After adjusting for the annual age-specific population size, we used a negative binomial regression model by age group and influenza subtype.

Results: Overall, 1 859 890 deaths were observed and the average rate of influenza virus positivity was 14.7% (standard deviation [SD], 5.8), with the following subtype distribution: A(H1N1), 5.0% (SD, 5.8); A(H3N2), 4.4% (SD, 3.4); and B, 5.3% (SD, 3.7). As a result, among individuals under 65 years old, 6774 (0.51%) all-cause deaths, 2521 (3.05%) respiratory or circulatory deaths, and 1048 (18.23%) influenza or pneumonia deaths were estimated. Among those 65 years of age or older, 30 414 (2.27%) all-cause deaths, 16 411 (3.42%) respiratory or circulatory deaths, and 4906 (6.87%) influenza or pneumonia deaths were estimated. Influenza A(H3N2) virus was the major contributor to influenza-associated all-cause and respiratory or circulatory deaths in both age groups. However, influenza A(H1N1) virus-associated influenza or pneumonia deaths were more common in those under 65 years old.

Conclusions: Influenza-associated mortality was substantial during this period, especially in the elderly. By subtype, influenza A(H3N2) virus made the largest contribution to influenza-associated mortality.

Keywords: Aged; Cost of illness; Influenza; Korea; Mortality.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Cause of Death / trends*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Influenza A Virus, H1N1 Subtype / physiology
  • Influenza A Virus, H3N2 Subtype / physiology
  • Influenza, Human / mortality*
  • Influenza, Human / virology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Statistical
  • Seasons*