So Swine Flu…Yawn

H1N1 Influenza Virus Every year in America approximately 200,000 people are hospitalized for influenza (flu). Of those, 36,000 people die from the virus, which is an 18% mortality rate. Worldwide, the annual influenza epidemics cause between 250,000 and 500,000 deaths.

Each and every year these statistics pass quietly by without media attention or induced mass panic. It’s just not considered newsworthy.

Of course this is not the case with the current rash of Swine Flu (H1N1) cases occurring right now. The media and the US government are making absolutely sure that this is a newsworthy issue. Public concern bordering on panic has been the result of this media apocalyptic extravaganza.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as of As of April 29, 2009, 11:00 AM EST there have been 91 confirmed cases of this form of Swine Flu in the United States with 1 fatality. Worldwide, as of 2:15 EST, 28 April 2009, the World Health Organization (WHO) is reporting that seven countries: America,  Mexico, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Israel, and Spain, have officially reported cases of swine influenza for a total of 132 case with 8 deaths (Mexico: 7, US: 1).

So…91 cases of Swine Flu with 8 deaths over the course of 5 days is cause for panic? Based on the figures from NIAID, during that same 5 days 2740 Americans were hospitalized for various forms of influenza and 493 of them died from it – but that wasn’t news! Nor were the 2700 – 6850 influenza caused deaths worldwide during the same 5 days.

Ask yourself who benefits from this sort of fear-mongering, then ask yourself how they benefit from it. Finally…ask yourself which is the real disease, the influenza virus or the people using it for their own purposes.

Related Reading:

Swine Flu: The New Pandemic
The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History
Unconventional Medicine: Join the Revolution to Reinvent Healthcare, Reverse Chronic Disease, and Create a Practice You Love
Pandemics: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)
The Swine Flu Affair: Decision-Making on a Slippery Disease

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13 Responses to “So Swine Flu…Yawn”

  1. Moriah Says:

    I was ranting about that this morning to a friend…I’d been getting so irritated, I snapped and needed to vent. It’s ridiculous for the very reasons you proffered. Even with it being a strain they haven’t seen before, the numbers don’t merit the mass hysteria the media seems to be trying to cull.

  2. jonolan Says:

    Yeah, it’s stupid overreaction and one that will be used by some groups to further their own agendas. πŸ™

  3. Moriah Says:

    I’m curious to see how this plays out.

  4. Paradigm Says:

    It’s not about what has happened, but what might happen. You could have argued the same way in the early 1980s about HIV or the Spanish flu in 1918.

  5. Moriah Says:

    I’m following what might happen…that’s not my issue with how the possibility of what could happen is being handled through the media. One of the issues for me is that this isn’t some man-eating flesh virus or HIV…the doctors and authorities repeatedly say the symptoms are that of the normal flu and that rest and fluids and some antibiotic treatment if needed is recommended. Yes, there isn’t a vaccination yet, but in terms of the actual illness and risk of death, it’s the same for those who contract it as those who contract normal influenza, and in fact, the antibiotics we have that the normal influenza is becoming more and more immune to actually work well for the “swine flu.”

  6. jonolan Says:

    Paradigm,

    So far this variant of H1N1 seems no more virulent than any other normal influenza strain. It’s actually less so since it’s had a 6% mortality rate worldwide and influenza averages an 18% mortality rate in the United States despite all of our medical ability.

    I don’t think the media hype and the fear-mongering is about “what might happen” so much as it is about “what they can get out of it.”

  7. Carl Says:

    Jonolan,

    Of course a certain amount of cynicism is in order. I always bare a certain “controlled interest” when watching the news (generally, I avoid TV news for its shallowness and high need for alarmism).

    Paradigm’s point is valid. Part of the concern of the medical community is the “potential”. Additionally, and what makes this strain more alarming, is the spread of those killed. The number of the solidly healthy, non-child or aged, that are in the stats is what provides the most concern. That piece alone implies a certain severity lacking in other flu strains.

    The public sector always walks a fine line with these events. Under-react and face public castigation. Over-react, and the public doesn’t respond when things are serious. And the media, oh the media! There are several bright spots in the “news” sector. However, many are pretty people whose only skill is reading a script.

  8. jonolan Says:

    Carl,

    There have been, at last substantiated report, only 8 deaths. That’s a very small sample set upon which to base any predictions.

    Also, there is only a supposition that the apparently anomalous demographic of the Mexican fatalities is a result of a “cytokine storm” reaction, which is not that uncommon of a reaction in the 1st place.

    As I noted earlier, non-Swine flu has an 18% mortality rate in the US. So far Swine flu only has a 6% mortality rate.

    While a certain level of concern is in order, this is being heavily pushed for no valid reason at all.

  9. Carl Says:

    While a certain level of concern is in order, this is being heavily pushed for no valid reason at all.

    Agreed! However, I try to be polite to my friends in government and journalism.

  10. jonolan Says:

    Ah…that makes sense, I suppose. πŸ˜† Of course I have no friends in government – at least not the current regime – and few friends in the media.

  11. Carl Says:

    An additional elaboration: those folks on the government side of the fence have it tough. Though we aren’t in a place to warrant panic, or even anything more than slightly heightened thoughtfulness, the public’s attention isn’t captured by such. It seems only to be able to focus on intense drama, and even that for the briefest of time. That’s sad enough, but add to it that the media plays these things to the hilt. Of course, that’s because it sells newspapers/gets pageviews. It’s all interwoven, I’m afraid.

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