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CDC denies over 4,000 flu and pneumonia patients have died

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) yesterday denied reports stating that over 4,000 people died from flu and pneumonia within the 15 weeks between last October and this January,

According to the CDC, the number of deceased in the reports not only included people who died from flu and pneumonia but also people who passed away due to a viral infection, cancers, immune system-related diseases, chemical and physical injuries.

The CDC said that from last July to this February, there have been 926 people confirmed to suffer from flu and 45 flu-related deaths, including those who died from pneumonia and other flu-related complications.

Ku Shih-chi (古世基), a doctor at National Taiwan University Hospital's thoracic department, said that since the fall season, the number of flu and pneumonia patients visiting the hospital has increased rapidly.

“Compared to the number of patients who visited the hospital with similar symptoms at the same time last year, the number was still greater this year,” said Ku.

Among all the complications that can result from flu, Ku said, pneumonia is the main cause of death for flu patients.

“Pneumococcus is the main fatal bacteria among all pneumonia, so I am worried that another wave of pneumococcus might take place in the following weeks,” said Ku.

According to Ku, pneumococcus tends to worsen during the peak flu season, so in the past years, the number of people being affected by pneumococcus increased by 10 to 30 percent averagely.

“However, due to the outbreak of flu this year, the number of confirmed pneumococcus cases nearly doubled around the time of the Chinese New Year holiday,” said Ku. “And that number increase went over the CDC's warning line of monitoring diseases.”

Ku said that based on the National Health Insurance's statistics from 2012, over 25 percent of patients who were flu patients and had complications from pneumonia were those who were over 50 years old.

According to Ku, the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice suggested that people who are over 65 years old and people who are over 50 years old and are categorized as high risk group should have pneumococcal conjugate vaccination in order to reduce the risk of being affected, and the vaccination can remain effective for ten years in human bodies.

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