Thursday, September 6, 2012

Why is the new swine flu newsworthy?/ CDC

It seems we have been hearing about the "new" swine flu over and over again.  Why should we care?

Only 290 cases throughout the US have been identified this season.  There have been either no or next-to-no cases of human to human transmission.  CDC thinks there may have been 3 people (1%) who caught the illness from a household contact.  The other people affected (99%) caught it from pigs. 

Hardly any of the cases (a total of 15) were bad enough to require hospitalization.  There has only been one death, in a woman with multiple other medical conditions, which occurred last week.

I went to the local fair Monday and there were plenty of pigs, as well as other farm animals.  There were also posters advising handwashing and many (new) alcohol rub handwashing stations.  That was the appropriate response to this swine flu.
This strain of swine flu (H3N2) was first identified last year.  Well, new strains are the rule, not the exception.  It is not especially virulent.  It doesn't transmit well to humans.  Most people affected have been children, suggesting that older people are likely to have some immunity from prior flu seasons. 

More to the point, this year's flu shot will not provide immunity for the new strain.

Sure, the strain might mutate and spread better in future.  It might become more virulent.  It might start affecting more adults.  And pigs might fly.

Last winter, the US had the mildest flu season ever recorded

Is CDC flummoxed by last year's flu season that never was?  Is CDC desperate to keep flu, and flu vaccine, in the news?  Why is its response disproportionate to the disease's impact?

Is CDC using a mild new flu, that is not even prevented by vaccination, to drum up a flu frenzy so people get vaccinated?

I'd love another explanation for the frequent CDC press releases, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. Can you think of any?

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