Annual influenza outbreaks constitute a major public health concern, both in the United States and worldwide. Comparisons of the health burdens of outbreaks might lead to the identification of specific at-risk populations, for whom public health resources should be marshaled appropriately and equitably.
We examined the disease burden of the 2009-10 influenza A (H1N1) pandemic relating to illnesses, medical visits, hospitalizations, and mortality, compared to influenza seasons 2010 to 2019, in the United States, as compiled by the Centers for Disease Control.
With regard to seasonal influenza, rates of illnesses and medical visits were highest in infants aged 0–4 years, followed by adults aged 50–64 years. Rates of hospitalizations and deaths evinced a starkly different pattern, both dominated by elderly adults aged 65 and over. Youths aged 0 to 17 years were especially adversely affected by the H1N1 pandemic relative to hospitalizations and mortality compared to seasonal influenza; but curiously the opposite pattern was observed in elderly adults (aged 65 and older).
The disease burden of the 2009-10 influenza A pandemic was strikingly unlike that observed in the subsequent influenza seasons 2010 to 2019, in the United States: the past did not predict the future.