Flu Kills 646,000 People Worldwide Each Year: Study

Seasonal flu kills 291,000 to 646,000 people worldwide each year, according to a new estimate that's higher than the previous one of 250,000 to 500,000 deaths a year.

The new figures from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other groups were published Dec. 13 in The Lancet medical journal.

The updated numbers, which do not include deaths during flu pandemics, are based on more recent data from a larger and more diverse group of countries than the previous estimate, the CDC said.

The data came from 33 countries that have 57 percent of the world's population and had seasonal flu numbers for a minimum of four years between 1999 and 2015. That information was used to create an estimate of flu-related respiratory deaths in 185 countries worldwide.

The study found that the risk of flu-related death was highest in the poorest regions of the world and among older adults.

"These findings remind us of the seriousness of flu and that flu prevention should really be a global priority," study co-author Dr. Joe Bresee, associate director for global health in CDC's Influenza Division, said in a CDC news release.

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