H1N1 (Swine) Flu: Don’t Panic (yet) (with O&A audio)

Fox News and other networks have been running a story that “scientists” are “predicting” a resurgence of the H1N1 (Swine) Flu virus this winter, one that will rival the influenza epidemic of 1918. My sources at the CDC tell me that in fact, this is simply a report about a contingency plan by the government in case the worst does happen. No one is able to predict what this stupid virus will do, but planning for the worst is never a bad idea. We talked about this briefly on O&A this morning, albeit in my typical “you woke me up, you asshats” stupor.

Barring a “superflu” of “Stephen King’s The Stand” proportions, it’s unlikely that the 1918 death rate will ever happen again. During that pandemic, 1/3 of the Earth’s 1.5 billion people got the flu, and 1/10th of those died from it. One thing they didn’t have back then that we do now: Antiviral medications. Another thing: mechanical ventilators. Another thing: the internet and mass media so people can stay abreast of what’s going on. Another thing: Purell. Another thing…well, you get the picture.

There are higher than normal influenza cases right now. The CDC issued this statement today:

  • Visits to doctors for influenza-like illness (ILI) were highest in February during the 2008-09 flu season, but rose again in April 2009 after the new H1N1 virus emerged. Current visits to doctors for influenza-like illness are down from April, but are higher than what is expected in the summer.
  • Total influenza hospitalization rates for adults and children remain low and are well below the seasonal winter-time average of the last four years.
  • The proportion of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza (P&I) was low and within the bounds of what is expected in the summer.
  • Most state health officials are reporting local or sporadic influenza activity. Two states are reporting widespread influenza activity at this time. Any reports of widespread influenza activity in August are very unusual.
  • Almost all of the influenza viruses identified were the new 2009 H1N1 influenza A viruses. These 2009 H1N1 viruses remain similar to the viruses chosen for the 2009 H1N1 vaccine and remain susceptible to antiviral drugs (oseltamivir and zanamivir).
  • So wash your hands, don’t put your fingers in your eyes, nose and mouth, and remain vigilant. If you come down with a fever/aches/pain/cough go see your primary care provider.

    your pal,

    steve

    (Check out the O&A audio…you can hear what a dumbass I am at 6:30AM)

    Weird Medicine Addendum with Doctor Steve

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