We estimated deaths attributable to influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) among persons >5 years of age in South Africa during 1998–2009 by applying regression models to monthly deaths and laboratory surveillance data. Rates were expressed per 100,000 person-years. The mean annual number of seasonal influenza–associated deaths was 9,093 (rate 21.6). Persons >65 years of age and HIV-positive persons accounted for 50% (n = 4,552) and 28% (n = 2,564) of overall seasonal influenza-associated deaths, respectively. In 2009, we estimated 4,113 (rate 9.2) influenza A(H1N1)pdm09–associated deaths. The mean of annual RSV-associated deaths during the study period was 511 (rate 1.2); no RSV-associated deaths were estimated in persons >45 years of age. Our findings support the recommendation for influenza vaccination of older persons and HIV-positive persons. Surveillance for RSV should be strengthened to clarify the public health implications and severity of illness associated with RSV infection in South Africa.
Data from this study were presented in part at the Options for the Control of Influenza Conference VIII; 2013 Sep 5–10; Cape Town, South Africa.