Hi, I’ve been paying a lot of attention to the swine flu news (mostly over at the Flu Wiki - best source of information), and I’m more than a little disappointed with the media handling of the story. The 24 hour news cycle doesn’t do well with a crisis that is months, not days, in the making. Because I love my Catholic forum friends, I’m posting here some information that I have written for my friends and family.
This is not an ordinary flu like the seasonal flu, although at this point it is being called “mild” by the CDC and the media. There are some things you should know about this flu:
*]What doctors mean by “mild” is that the patient did not require a respirator in order to recover. This is somewhat different from what you or I might mean by “mild”.
*]There are a troubling number of young, healthy people that are being sickened by this flu to the point where they need hospitalization in the US, way more than what you see with seasonal flu. “When we look at the number of cases that have been hospitalized, the median age of those being hospitalized is 19 years,” Jernigan (deputy director of the CDC) said. “Those 19 to 49 are the largest chunk being hospitalized.”(Source)
*]In Mexico, 68% of the deaths were in the 20 to 50yr age range. (Source: pg 3)
*]Currently, it looks like the attack rate for this flu is between 22 to 33% (attack rate meaning the number of people in an exposed population that eventually become sick). Seasonal flu is around 10 percent. (WHO data)
*]Swine flu CFR (case/fatality ratio) is now calculated at around .04 (meaning 4 people out of a thousand sickened die), seasonal flu is .01. Swine flu is four times as deadly…and it kills those in our age range. (Source)
*]Pre-existing health conditions do play a role in hospitalizations and deaths, but according to a California study , 1/3 of those hospitalized had NO pre-existing health condition. This is a pattern that is being repeated everywhere.
**Pre-existing health conditions are:
*]Compromised Immune System
**Pregnancy and this flu: a dangerous mix
Although it there were conflicting reports on the pregnant teacher who died in Texas, her husband has confirmed that the only “underlying health condition” she had was that she was pregnant. Of the 5 pregnant women treated in the California study, one miscarried and one had an emergency c-section; her baby was 5 weeks early. **If you are pregnant and you get the flu, you should start antivirals immediately. **Here are the CDC recommendations.
Given the above facts, I do not think that the CDC or the WHO overreacted when this outbreak was discovered. While there is no point in being overly worried about this flu, you shouldn’t take it lightly either (which is what some in the media are suggesting). Information on the flu and flu preparedness can be found at PandemicFlu.gov and Get Pandemic Ready. Remember, you should have at least two weeks of food/water on hand, including foods that are easy for your kids to prepare if you are too sick to get out of bed.
**“Mild” Now, But What About Later?
This virus might very well change for the worse. There are several hypotheses why this appeared to happen in 1918, the most accepted being that of “passaging”. Here is some on information on “passaging” which is the observation that some pathogens adapt more and more to its host with every “passage” from one host to another. Adaption in flu = virulence. There are quite a few parallels with 1918 and this flu so far. You can read more about that here, starting page 176: The Great Influenza.
This isn’t over yet. We are just now seeing rise on the exponential curve in places like Queens, it is just getting going pretty much everywhere else in the US. You can expect several more waves of this virus over the next year or so, and getting it once does *not *mean you can’t get it again.
I hope you find this information useful. May you be blessed with good health!