Free Markets, Free People

Seasonal flu kills 36,000 every year

Not to talk down the seriousness of the situation with the “swine flu,” but 13,000 people have died from seasonal influenza since January:

An outbreak of swine flu that is suspected in more than 150 deaths in Mexico and has sickened dozens of people in the United States and elsewhere has grabbed the attention of a nervous public and of medical officials worried the strain will continue to mutate and spread.

Experts are nervous that, as a new strain, the swine flu will be harder to stop because there aren’t any vaccines to fight it.

But even if there are swine-flu deaths outside Mexico — and medical experts say there very well may be — the virus would have a long way to go to match the roughly 36,000 deaths that seasonal influenza causes in the United States each year.
Since January, more than 13,000 people have died of complications from seasonal flu, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s weekly report on the causes of death in the nation.

No fewer than 800 flu-related deaths were reported in any week between January 1 and April 18, the most recent week for which figures were available.

Let’s put things into perspective for a moment. The swine flu scare is something to be concerned about, but it’s not a reason to cook up asinine conspiracy theories or use the public’s fear to advance your big government agenda.

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14 Responses to Seasonal flu kills 36,000 every year

  • It reminds me of the hysterical SARS coverage.

  • or use the public’s fear to advance your big government agenda.

    Or as an excuse for blatant protectionism, a la the Rooskies banning US meat.

  • Or an effective way to distract from the still in the dumps financial mess or the trillions of dollars we’re throwing down a rat hole or the debt we’re about to deed to our kids and grandkids…  

    Not to mention the fawning “Look!  It’s not another Katrina!  See me!  I done good!” coverage.

  • The thing to look for with this flu is the demographics of the fatalities. Typical influenza kills very young and very old. Look at the graph on the right for the 1918 Spanish Influenza. If this H1N1 outbreak manages to set off “cytokine storms” in healthy young adults, the death toll could be very high.

    • There was also a dirty nasty World War going on in 1918 that put people in that age group under intense stress, poor sanitary conditions, and exposed them to other illnesses and injury constantly.  The middle age group bump in the 1918 data is overrated, imho. 

      • If the war in Europe was the cause, how do you account for the large number of deaths in the US and Asia? You indicate an opinion about the bump in the number of deaths, but you give no reason for holding this. This report includes some numbers:

        Influenza and pneumonia death rates for those 15–34 years of age in 1918–1919, for example, were >20 times higher than in previous years (35). Overall, nearly half of the influenza-related deaths in the 1918 pandemic were in young adults 20–40 years of age, a phenomenon unique to that pandemic year. The 1918 pandemic is also unique among influenza pandemics in that absolute risk of influenza death was higher in those <65 years of age than in those >65; persons <65 years of age accounted for >99% of all excess influenza-related deaths in 1918–1919. In comparison, the <65-year age group accounted for 36% of all excess influenza-related deaths in the 1957 H2N2 pandemic and 48% in the 1968 H3N2 pandemic (33).

        If there is a good reason for me to hold the same opinion that such information is overrated regarding the 1918 outbreaks, I’m not seeing it.
        I certainly hope this current virus turns out to be no big deal, and that people learn to be more level-headed in the future.

      • Richard Nikoley discusses the evolutionary aspect, one of which argues that comorbid bacterial infections, like pneumococcus, caused the large number of deaths.  Modern antibiotics would likely treat such infections.

  • Fear drives the media.   It’s insane.  It’s not left  or right, the media does this crap all the time.

  • Time to fast-track National healthcare so our hero Obama can save the day! (Sarcasm off) Wonder what Obama and Specter talked about the last few days?

  • Just another crisis that needs to be taken advantage of….

  • holy crap, I can’t believe the willful ignorance/outright deception the conspiracy link uses to turn

    “This strain of swine influenza that’s been cultured in a laboratoryis something that’s not been seen anywhere actually in the United States and the world, so this is actually a new strain of influenza that’s been identified,” said Dr. John Carlo, Dallas Co. Medical Director


    …a public health official said that the virus was “cultured in a laboratory”.

  • You mean to say that seven times as many Americans die every year from the flu as have died in the Iraq war in six years?

    It must have been the media that created all that hysteria about the Iraq war being the greatest foreign policy “fiasco” ever.