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Reply from the person who said "swine flu concerns are exaggerated?



June 09, 2009 – Comments (7) | RELATED TICKERS: F

I suspect that dwot was referring to me in her recent post "Someone said swine flu concerns are exaggerated?".  I like reading her blog and I have a ton of respect for her, but I believe that she is way off base here. 

The swine flu has been getting HUGE headlines and people were on CAPS talking about it as the next global pandemic that will wipe out a huge percentage of the population the day after the news broke about it.

I feel terrible for the people who have been impacted directly, or indirectly by this illness, but in reality the swine flu has had very little real-world impact...other than on Mexican tourism.  We've come a loooong way since 1918.  You can't compare the medical treatment that is available today and today's living conditions to what was available back then. 

Back in 1918 I highly doubt that they began to evacuate schools until it was too late.  Today they are closing entire schools if a single kid sniffles.  Things like Purell, respirators, vaccines, etc... exist today that didn't exist back then.

Even most of the Canadian articles on the aboriginal outbreak that was referenced in the above post don't think that the flu is spreading that quickly:

Dr. Joel Kettner, chief provincial public health officer, said...that five to 10 per cent of Manitoba's population may already have been exposed to the swine flu, or H1N1, virus. He said this shows that only a tiny proportion of the population is contracting or becoming severely ill from the disease.


While the vast majority of people who have contracted the flu have not required hospitalization, the new swine flu seems to be hitting certain groups hard - aboriginals and people between 20 and 60, Kettner said.

The reason why people on reserves are contracting the flu is the unfortunate living conditions there:

First Nations leaders have said the scare at St. Theresa Point illustrates widespread concerns about pandemic planning for impoverished reserves where overcrowding in homes is common — heightening the risk a flu outbreak could spread quickly.


More than half of those on ventilators as of Monday were aboriginal. Native leaders have warned that poor housing conditions make it hard to prevent a contagious disease from spreading. One of the hardest-hit communities is St. Theresa Point - a fly-in reserve 500 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg where some two-bedroom homes house 10 or more people.


"It's not unusual to see a pattern where illness rates are higher amongst our First Nations and other aboriginal peoples, or amongst others that are disadvantaged by living, social and economic conditions," Kettner said.

I suspect that the mortality rate for aboriginal people in general is higher than it is for most other Canadians.

The swine flu sucks, but it's not going to wipe out even 0.1% of any country's population, let alone 85%. 

This quote says it all:

Kettner tried to put the serious cases in perspective by stressing the vast majority of Manitobans exposed to the H1N1 virus will not become seriously ill...

It's way more than dozens (who will be exposed to H1N1), Kettner said. "We're talking about tens of thousands -- if not hundreds of thousands -- of Manitobans. It's only a small proportion of people exposed to this virus who are becoming ill enough to require hospital care...This isn't a cause for panic or for really any change in the approach to this problem.

The vast majority of the people with the worst living conditions in Canada will not even become seriously ill as a result of the swine flu...let alone die. 

Every precaution should be taken to prevent the spread of the swine flu, but I stand by my earlier prediction that the people who believe that it will be some sort of global pandemic that wipes out millions of people are way off base.

Numbers of aboriginals in critical condition with flu surge in Manitoba

Flu cases requiring intensive care spike in Manitoba, first death in Quebec

'Toba aboriginals hardest hit by flu, says Kettner


7 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On June 09, 2009 at 12:28 PM, jstegma (28.76) wrote:

Agree completely.  Swine flu was totally overrated.  I mentioned this in my April 27 blog. 

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#2) On June 09, 2009 at 3:27 PM, motherabigail (< 20) wrote:

It ain't overrated at all. It's like a cat lyin in wait. When the leaves fall from the trees that's when the big reapin is gonna come.

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#3) On June 09, 2009 at 8:54 PM, dwot (29.65) wrote:

It wasn't you.

#2) On April 27, 2009 at 11:07 PM, zloj (87.85) wrote:

That's a nonevent, much like the Y2K bug.


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#4) On June 09, 2009 at 9:02 PM, dwot (29.65) wrote:

This is what makes this flu different....

“Approximately half the people who have died from this H1N1 infection have been previously healthy people,” Dr. Fukuda said, adding that this was “one of the observations which has given us the most concern.”

Most of the time it is people that are already fairly sick and/or old that die from it, although I do know a couple that lost their 15-year old son to it about 3-5 years ago.  I bet they can still count the days but I can't remember how many years.

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#5) On June 09, 2009 at 9:16 PM, starbucks4ever (87.62) wrote:

The swine flu is most certainly a nonevent. I'm amazed that those politicians were so pig-headed that they rewarded the pharma companies that started this hoax with a mulltimillion-dollar order for a new sugar pill. 

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#6) On June 09, 2009 at 9:28 PM, NOTvuffett (< 20) wrote:

It is always sad when somebody dies for something as meaningless as the flu, but apprx. 34,000 die from the flu each year in the US.  I only know of two confirmed deaths from swine flu in my state, I agree with zloj that this is a nonevent.

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#7) On June 09, 2009 at 9:39 PM, Seano67 (24.36) wrote:

Any viruses like that have to be a worry. I mean this isn't just an ordinary cold or flu virus, it is very far out of the ordinary, and is in the same family as its much deadlier cousins, the H5 Avian virus, and the Spanish flu virus, which was also a form of avian flu. 

So thankfully this was a very mild version of a virus that has some truly bad characters (the H5 flu has a human mortality rate of between 50-80%), but the frightening thing about 'super-viruses' (beyond how mysterious they are. I mean we know a lot about them, but in actuality we know comparatively *nothing* about them) lies in their unpredictability as well as their adaptability and their ability to unexpectedly mutate into new strains very, very quickly. So if H5 were ever able to make the leap into becoming a highly contagious virus among humans, well then the results would be just catastrophic. Or if HIV were to ever become an airborne virus. And it's the same principle with H1N, if this thing is able to morph into something far deadlier than it currently is, well....

When I was in college, we had a deadly pathogens specialist from the Centers for Disease Control come in and give a lecture during one of my immunology classes, and that was a very sobering if not downright hair-raising experience. I mean these viruses are truly frightening, they are such lethal predators and they are so, so ancient. Marburg, Ebola, avian flus, and god only knows what else is percolating out there in the jungles of the world. And it's not just the fact that they kill you, it's the way in which they do so. It's just horrifying what they do to the human body and the way they break apart the human mind, and the deaths they cause are beyond horrible and gruesome. It's some really nasty stuff. I'm a fan of horror movies and not a person who is easily grossed-out or frightened, but what these things do to people just turns my stomach in revulsion and horror.

So hopefully this thing will just remain mild and ultimately fade away into obscurity. But that's not a guarantee, and thus the reason why this is still an issue of concern, not panic.

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