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Swine Flu: A Public Service Announcement

It’s just the flu, and as tragic as it is that people have died from it, the same thing happens every year from more mundane strains of influenza:

The ordinary “seasonal flu” we all get from time to time has routinely been far more deadly. According to the federal Centers for Disease Control, the seasonal flu has led to the deaths of more than 13,000 people in the United States just since January 1st of this year (about 800 deaths per week!). In the last full year for which statistics are available, the 2007-08 flu season, the ordinary bug killed about 36,000 people nationwide.

Most of these deaths occurred among the elderly or people with compromised immune systems. But the very young are always more vulnerable than healthy adults. While the fact that a toddler in Texas recently succumbed to the swine flu is tragic, the CDC says that more than 20,000 children under the age of five are hospitalized every year because of seasonal flu. In the 2007-08 flu season, it reports that 86 children nationwide died from flu complications.

Panic over potential pandemics can easily cause a lot of crazy things to happen. One early contender for a prize in that department is this story about the government of Egypt ordering the mass slaughter of 400,000 pigs to head off the new flu, even though international health authorities are sure that the bug is not transmitted from swine to humans.


1 Comment

  1. bangkok pete says:

    the virus, which has killed an estimated 150 people in Mexico, is showing a sustained ability to pass from human to human. very worrying


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