Objectives: Data from the Tecumseh Community Health Study were used to estimate excess morbidity owing to influenza, and results were compared with estimates made previously using different methodology for an Institute of Medicine report.
Methods: Study participants from Tecumseh, Michigan, were classified as infected or noninfected based on laboratory results. The excess numbers of respiratory illnesses, respiratory illness days, and bed and restricted activity days experienced by the infected compared with the noninfected were estimated.
Results: The number of excess influenza-related respiratory illnesses was lower than that estimated in the Institute of Medicine report, in which all illnesses of certain characteristics occurring during an influenza season were attributed to influenza. It is now estimated that the US population under 20 years of age experiences a yearly average of 13.8 to 16.0 million influenza-related excess respiratory illnesses; for older individuals, the yearly estimate is 4.1 to 4.4 million excess illnesses.
Conclusions: For public health purposes, estimates of excess morbidity as well as of total morbidity associated with influenza should be used in setting health priorities.