Influenza outbreak in February claims more deaths in the South Netherlands

21/03/2005 10:00

In February 2005 the number of deaths was approximately 800 higher than in the first four weeks of this year. The increase was mainly found in the South Netherlands and coincides with a flu outbreak which swept this region in early February.

Death toll one quarter higher in the South Netherlands

Almost 3 thousand people died in the South Netherlands in February 2005, almost 600 more than in the preceding four weeks and also 600 above than the average level for February. In all other regions February’s death rate did not vary much from the death rate in January.

Weekly mortality rate by part of the country

Weekly mortality rate by part of the country

Flu epidemic in February

The higher mortality rate in the South Netherlands more or less coincides with a flu epidemic as reported by the NIVEL. The flu epidemic peaked in week 7 (14-20 February), when 48 in every 10 thousand inhabitants in the South Netherlands were diagnosed with influenza. In the following fortnight the number of flu patients dropped significantly. In other parts of the country the effects of the outbreak were much less severe.

Mortality rate and flu patients in the South Netherlands

Mortality rate and flu patients in the South Netherlands

Mortality rate highest in week after flu epidemic struck

The highest mortality rate in the South Netherlands was recorded in week 8 (21-27 February), a week after the flu outbreak reached its highest level. Research demonstrates that there is some time between the outbreak and the first flu-related deaths.

Mortality rate in the South Netherlands by age

Mainly elderly die of flu

Flu deaths in the southern part of the Netherlands are predominantly elderly people. Compared to January 2005, when an average number of deaths were registered, the mortality rate among over-90s was almost 30 percent higher in February 2005. The mortality rate among people in the age category 80–89 was one quarter above average and the rate for those aged 70–79 was more than 20 percent above average.

Carel Harmsen