Monday, May 04, 2009

Pandemic.... ?

Swine Flu (aka "Pig Sniffles") has been all the talk around here lately. I just heard that the nearby Plymouth/Canton schools have been closed due to suspected cases. Considering how much panic has been going into this, I thought I'd give it a little analysis.

Flu kills a lot of people. About 36,000 Americans die each year from it. That's about 1/100 of 1% of the population in whole. So far the Swine Flu, aka A(H1N1), has confirmed numbers of 876 infections and 26 deaths in the U.S. and Mexico. That is a 2.9% fatality rate, much higher than the overall influenza fatality rates each year.

The WHO defines pandemic as "widespread human infection." We are currently on phase 5 of their pandemic scale, meaning that human-to-human spread of the virus into at least two countries in one WHO region has been confirmed. Assuming it gets to full blown pandemic mode, the expected infection rate is 25-35% of world population.

6.77 billion humans x (25-35)% infection x 2.9% fatality = 49.1-68.7 million deaths worldwide

Let's hope that equation is very wrong.

And not to let potential tragedy go without some attempt at poorly timed humor, this may be the time to move to Madagascar. Or not.


  1. I don't have swine flu... but i do have bacon fever!... now I'm hungry...

    It appears that the media has blown something way out of preportion...again, what happened to bird flu? what do you hear about global warming anymore? even the so called economic 'crisis' has taken a back seat, I seriously don't think much more is going to come of this but that's just my opinion, it's only a big thing because hearing about the recession is boring people...

  2. I agree with Peter, everything I've heard so far is exaggerated at best. For example the scare with the first American death which turned out to be a 23 month old Mexican child.

    Give it a couple of months and the next "world crisis" will force Swine Flu to the sidelines.

    Having said that, I did fall ill over the weekend. However, it was a terrible case of Man Flu.

  3. Swine flu is nothing, remeber Avian Bird Flu? Thought not.... I had Man Flu and Manthrax and survived, just the media drumming up business - pox panic sells papers, buy shares in kleenex and Post Office now the government has printed 60 million leaflets.

  4. If the media want to blow something way out of proportion it should be something that makes us do posotive things, like;

    You will spotaniously combust if you don't recycle!

    If you don't walk for an hour each day all the fast food restraunts in your area will collapse!

    If you exceed the reccomendded weight guidlines God will hit you with a bolt of lightning and then scatter the ashes into the sun!

    ...the only thing swine flu is promoting is to stop mexican's and pigs sharing a room... stupid media

  5. Do not under-exaggerate the threat of Swine Flu. This is at Phase 5, which means CONFIRMED human-human contraction. The virus has mutated to be infectious within the human population, and has spread to more than one country. This is a big deal.

    Those of you saying that "what about the Avian Flu?" ... Avian flu did not progress past Phase 3. People were contracting the Flu from birds, but the flu did NOT mutate to be infectious human-human (would be Phase 4). Because of this, it's potential was limited. Sure, there was a scare about the possibility of it progressing to a pandemic, but it didn't happen. That DOES NOT mean that Swine Flu is to be ignored. This flu has already progressed farther than Avian Flu.

    Want some perspective on the Phase 5? Last flu virus that progressed to Phase 5 was in 1968, the "Hong Kong Flu" which killed a million people over the course of two years. Before that was the "Asian Flu" of 1957 which killed 2 million deaths (70,000 of which were Americans). Before that? Spanish Influenze of 1918, killing 50 million people within the FIRST 6 MONTHS. The "bird flu" was never a "pandemic" as it never fully mutated to spread easily and sustainably among humans.

    While I will agree that the media loves to exaggerate, Mike is quoting the World Health Organization, not some TV-news channel. They are NOT the media, and they are saying that it IS something to be concerned about.

    While Swine Flu acts in a similar fashion to normal influenza, the danger here is that we all have an amount of natural resistance to it from being exposed so often (also why the death rates tend to be mostly infants, elderly, and immunocompromised). With the Swine Flu strain, we don't have that immunity from repeated exposure, which means the symptoms will be much more severe, and more likely to be fatal than a normal flu. If you are a healthy person, your chances of dying due to infection is low. However if you are infected with any other opportunistic infection, are otherwise unhealthy or immunocompromised, you could die from it.

    Also, Peter mentioned something, not sure it was a joke or not, but going to address it anyways: Swine Flu is not contracted through eating pork or pork products. It is in Phase 5, which means fearing pigs is irrational. The problem has mutated to reside within the human population.

  6. It was a joke, a bit of black humour there... muhahahah


I had to add anti-spam measures because, let's face it, almost nobody comments on blogs anymore unless they are spamming. Sorry.