Swine flu spreading like topsy

The latest update:

The CDC now claim that 20 people have succumbed to swine flu in the United States of America. According to media reports in New Zealand we have at least ten (the students from Rangitoto College). With those sorts of numbers either we are over-responding to an imagined threat or we are the epicentre of this contagious virus.

Despite the worldwide pandemic predictions no-one has died from the disease, except in Mexico. But let’s all remember that Mexico is a third world country and so would be a difficult place to find good health care, especially if you are poor. And there are a lot of poor in Mexico.

Update on swine flu
Update on swine flu

The comments on Stuff at the end of a story about swine flu reflect my current lack of concern. Here’s my favourite:

I think this is the beginning of the end. Its just like in the movie “dawn of the dead”. How long is it before the re-animated walk the streets? Soon, thats when! I know that John Key has been whisked away to a secure location as the New Zealand army gets ready for the zombie apocalypse! I read it on the internet so it must be right! Get ready people! This is a virus cooked up in labs so that drug makers who caused 9/11 and the death of JFK can make more money by selling more black helicopters to Elvis.

3 thoughts on “Swine flu spreading like topsy”

  1. In 1918:

    In large U.S cities, more than 10,000 deaths per week were attributed to the virus. It is estimated that as many as 50% of the population was infected, and ~1% died. To compare, in “normal” (interpandemic) years, it is estimated that between 10-20% of the population is infected, with a .008% mortality.

    The fact the current ‘swine flu’ has shown to be contagious is alarming. So far the virus has shown to have a 6% to 6.3% mortality rate. It may not seem like much, but please consider the following: The deadly influenza panic in 1918 had a mortality rate of under 1%.

    This virus went on to kill tens of thousands of healthy people a day in large cities and up to 100 million people world wide.

    Viruses, like this strain of swine flu, kill their host by over-stimulating active immune systems that are robust and healthy. That is why the victims in Mexico were between the ages of 20 and 45.

    Some have said that no one in the United States have died from the virus, so we need not worry. Experts say it is only a matter of time. The virus is not prevalent enough to reach statistical significance in the United States, with only a handful of confirmed cases. 93.7% of all Mexicans with the virus recovered.

    More cause for worry: The 1918 virus started off ‘mild’ before it mutated into a raging storm. It also does not mean we will see millions of deaths. It is too early to draw sweeping conclusions. Nevertheless, there is potential for a disastrous pandemic. If 50% of Americans catch this flu in the next two years, and the mortality rate stays at 6.3%, we would witness 20+ million deaths.

    This strain of virus is more potent and more deadly than the virus that hammered the world in 1918 and 1919. Viruses come in waves. There are striking similarities to this virus and the virus that killed up to 100 million people in 1918. The first wave is historically more mild than the later waves.

    In addition to this virus becoming more severe, it is mutating faster than previous virus that we have seen. In addition, this virus is nothing like we have ever seen before because it combines features from viruses natural in different parts of the globe. We are in uncharted territory.

    If it follows the same path as the 1918 flu, we will see very damaging results. However, we must remember we are a global society now and the virus can spread quicker than we have ever witnessed in history. This is very concerning especially since the drugs we have now seem resistant.

    While there have been no deaths in America, it is shadowed by the fact the common variable among the deaths seem to be age. While most American cases have involved the very young and very old (under 10 and over 50) the Mexican cases that ended fatally involved the robust and healthy (over 20 and under 45).

    This virus kills the host by over-stimulating the immune system. The term that is used when the immune system over reacts is called a Cytokine Storm. It is usually fatal. During this “Storm” over 150 inflammatory mediators are released. This would account for the high mortality rate in 1918-19.


  2. And my reply is:

    “Head of Clinical Research at Sydney’s National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance Professor Robert Booy said a pandemic was possible.

    “However, even if or when a pandemic occurs, it will not be like the big killer, the Spanish Flu, that accounted for (the deaths of) over 50 million people in 1919/1920,” Prof Booy said.

    “We are just so much better prepared this time. We have highly effective drug therapy and also the wherewithal to produce a vaccine.

    “Intensive care is light-years more advanced and we understand so much better the value of simple measures like hand-washing, mask use, avoidance of crowds and quarantine.”

  3. Please don’t let these fear-mongers scare you into doing something stupid. The percentage of cases worldwide is ridiculously small and looks to be well managed and contained.

    Strikes me as odd though that right in the middle of a global financial crisis we need to start buying up a whole heap of antivirals.

    anyway let’s face the facts here, Mexico is POOR, overpopulated, dirty and their government isn’t exactly the best. You put people with poor hygeine conditions, no money for drugs and living in high population areas and you will undoubtably get this sort of thing happening.
    Don’t start pulling your hair out and wearing those stupid masks (which won’t do anything anyway) because your local newscaster suggests it. You would think that people would have learnt by now that the internet and even TV news isn’t god’s honest truth. Take it easy people. If you get sick, go to the doctor, quarantine yourself don’t go in to work and take your medicine. If you get worse go to hospital. Common sense. If it gets as bad as 1918 then I think we are in serious trouble but nearly a century of medicine makes a hell of a difference as skinny said.

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