Sabtu, 12 Desember 2009

H1N1 Flu Deaths Update

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated this week that between 7,000 and 14,000 people have died of swine flu in the U.S. through mid-November, out of the 34-67 million people who had the swine flu so far.

Deaths caused by the flu are notoriously hard to estimate because most people are not tested for the flu when they have it and because people may die of a combination of causes, including the flu. The usual estimate is that the regular seasonal flu causes about 30,000 deaths each flu season (the winter months), so these latest swine flu numbers aren’t too bad. In fact they’re well below the government’s estimate back in August of 30,000 to 90,000 deaths from swine flu this season.

The big question is what will happen in January/February – will swine flu reassert itself in a third wave, as happened in the pandemics of 1918 and 1957? Will the H1N1 virus change to become more lethal, or more resistant to the vaccine? If either of these things happens the situation could change quickly. Most people in the U.S. are not yet immune to the swine flu because they have not had it yet and they have not been vaccinated against it.

Apparently many people think the danger is passed. We’ll hope they’re right. But if you still haven’t gotten your swine flu shot, it’s not too late. The vaccine supply seems to be pretty good these days.

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