[LINK] Extract of comp.risks item: CNN article on "normal flu" mortalities (from J. Epstein)

Scott Howard scott at doc.net.au
Fri May 1 04:15:38 EST 2009


On Thu, Apr 30, 2009 at 7:08 AM, Phillip Musumeci <pmusumeci at gmail.com>wrote:

> Many of us frequently lambaste the media for their scare tactics.  For a
> change, CNN got it right today, putting the flu scare in proportion.


I disagree.  The "proportion" with swine flu isn't the current status (ie,
150 dead, which, in a global sense, is insignificant) - it's the potential
for it to kill millions if left unchecked.

97 million people in the US catch the flu each year (Based on CDC figures).
If 36,000 die, that gives a mortality rate of 0.037%.

The current mortality rate being experienced with "swine flu" is around
6.3%.  Even at only a 5% mortality rate, if 97 million Americas catch it
like the "regular" flu, that would be close to 5 million deaths.

The 1918 "Spanish" flu, which was another strain of Influenza A H1N1, killed
an estimated 50 to 100 million people worldwide, with a mortality rate of
somewhere between 2.5% and 5%. Of course this was before modern medicine and
communication, but it was also before widespread air travel.

Odds are this will turn into another "Y2K", where the actions taken by those
responsible will largely diffuse the risk before it becomes critical - but
just like Y2K, if the correct actions aren't taken in a timely fashion this
will become a major global crisis.

Within a few miles of where I live (Santa Clara, California) we have 1
confirmed and at least 6 probable cases of infection, many from people who
have not traveled to Mexico. Many schools have been closed until at least
Monday week, and there is talk of closing all Bay Area schools if the
problem escalates, and apparently all of the stores are completely sold out
of face masks.  Is that overkill?  With hindsight there's probably a good
chance that people will claim it was - just like people still claim that Y2K
was a scam...

  Scott


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