Saturday, May 02, 2009

More on flu

Person to person transmission of the new virus has been observed in the USA, Germany, Spain and the UK so it is a pandemic. The word 'pandemic' simply refers to the extent of the spread , not the severity. A pandemic is defined by "sustained human transmission within more than one country in separate World Health Organisation regions".

From what has been observed so far this new strain is similar to normal winter flu. But the 1957 pandemic of Asian flu killed 2 million people world wide. It is estimated that flu has a death rate of 1 in 1000, but if many people get it, a lot of people will die.

How then do we explain the death rate of 7+% in Mexico? It is simply a matter of using the wrong denominator. There are 117 million people in Mexico. Are we to assume that among the 117 million, only 1600 have had the new flu? That's nonsense! The overwhelming majority have not had a blood test. One imagines that record keeping is not strong in Mexico. I doubt there is a universal general practice program in Mexico collecting statistics on the incidence of infections as there is in the UK, Sweden and other European countries. They don't even have that in the USA.

I expect that this will be a normal flu virus causing similar symptoms and of similar severity to normal flu. There will be some deaths, there always are, but we have Tamiflu which curtails symptoms. In a few months we will have a vaccine. This looks like being less severe though more widespread than 1957.


Anonymous said...

I heard they found a CURE for the swineflu:

Anonymous said...

The difference in death rate between Mexico and other countries is probably real. Mexico is a third world country, does not have much in the way of health insurance and has a pay-as-you-go physician system. So if you are economically challenged, you go untreated.

Terry Hamblin said...

Currently the BBC is reporting that only 16 of the Mexican deaths are confirmed as caused by swine flu.

Anonymous said...

16 is the numerator so what is the denominator?