Research Article| Volume 50, ISSUE 4, e111-e119, April 2016

Influenza-Associated Excess Mortality in South Korea

  • Minah Park
    WHO Collaborating Centre for Infectious Disease Epidemiology and Control, School of Public Health, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China
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  • Peng Wu
    Address correspondence to: Peng Wu, PhD, School of Public Health, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong, 21 Sassoon Road, Pokfulam, Hong Kong
    WHO Collaborating Centre for Infectious Disease Epidemiology and Control, School of Public Health, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China
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  • Edward Goldstein
    Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics, Department of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts
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  • Woo Joo Kim
    Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Internal Medicine, Korea University College of Medicine, Seoul, Republic of Korea

    Transgovernmental Enterprise for Pandemic Influenza in Korea (TEPIK), Seoul, Republic of Korea
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  • Benjamin J. Cowling
    WHO Collaborating Centre for Infectious Disease Epidemiology and Control, School of Public Health, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China
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Published:November 20, 2015DOI:


      It is important to determine the health impact of influenza in order to calibrate public health measures. The objective of this study was to estimate excess mortality associated with influenza in Korea in 2003–2013.


      The authors constructed multiple linear regression models in 2014 with weekly mortality rates stratified by age, region, and cause of death against weekly surveillance data on influenza virus collected in 2003–2013. Excess mortality rates were estimated using the difference between predicted mortality rates from the fitted model versus predicted mortality rates with the influenza covariate for each strain set to 0.


      During the study period, influenza was associated with an average of 2,900 excess deaths per year. The impact of influenza on mortality was significantly higher in older people; the overall all-cause excess annual mortality rate per 100,000 people was 5.97 (95% CI=4.89, 7.19), whereas it was 46.98 (95% CI=36.40, 55.82) for adults aged ≥65 years. It also greatly varied from year to year, ranging from 2.04 in 2009–2010 to 18.76 in 2011–2012.


      The impact of influenza on mortality in Korea is substantial, particularly among the elderly and the rural population. More-comprehensive studies may be needed to estimate the full impact of influenza.
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