Monday, September 14, 2009

My Flu Rant

I've had some sort of virus for a handful of days. Looking at my symptoms, I'd guess a mild case of flu. Due to my chronic health problems, I'm lucky at how mild it has been, even if I haven't felt lucky. I've FELT like crap. I'm hoping, but didn't go to the doctor to be tested, that this was H1N1 and that now I am done with it. Although, I WILL still get flu shots this next few months just to be cautious. But I have heard SO MUCH misinformation, that I felt the need to post a few facts here. I hope that someone hears me and shares this and people listen. Because even if YOU don't get sick from the flu, your poor hygeine and lack of regard for others might kill somebody. You can pass a virus along without it making you ill. So cough all over some people on the bus, and you might pass it on without even knowing it. Please wash your freakin' hands. Use hand sanitizers if needed. If you get sick, stay home; if you have to leave the house for groceries or something: wear a mask so you don't pass it on. (In Asia, when you see people wearing masks, most of them are doing it out of consideration for others, not self interest.)
Some facts, as of yesterday:
The correct figures for U.S. H1N1 cases was over 9000 hospitalizations and 789 deaths, out of 49,214 confirmed and probable cases. The problem is that it is killing healthy, non-senior adults which "regular" flu does not do. Until now most kids have been home for the summer AND "normal" flu season hasn't hit yet. Disease models suggest more people will end up having H1N1 than had the 1918 H1N1 flu in the U.S. (Yes, it is the same strain.) And worldwide they expect twice as many deaths: 100 million according to WHO disease models. H1N1 has already been declared a global pandemic. Just as the 1918 pandemic started with mild cases in Spring, so has H1N1 and the viruses are genetically the same (H1N1). Not to mention viruses mutate rapidly, so we have no idea how bad this one will get, but even if it stays the same, it is already rather deadly.
Worldwide confirmed deaths from H1N1 stood at 3607 as of last week. Take into account most countries do not have the testing capabilites on a nationwide basis that we do and imagine how high that number probably really is. Before flu season.
Worldwide seasonal flu case fatality rate is less than half of a percent (<0.05%); H1N1 case fatality is currently over one and a half percent (1.6%).
So please stop saying things like:
"Way more people die from the regular flu every year."
"Only a couple/one people/person died from H1N1, so what's the big deal?"
"I'm really healthy, so I could care less."
"It's all hype meant to scare us. Doesn't the media have anything better to do?"
Because not only are you wrong, but you're risking others' lives, too.

Addendum via Vicki:
The WHO estimates that approx 2 billion people will be infected. That's 1/3 of the world population. Wash your hands, stay home if you're sick, get your shots--seasonal, and H1N1 if you're in one of the following population groups:

  • pregnant women
  • people who live with or care for children younger than 6 months of age
  • healthcare and emergency medical services personnel,
  • persons between the ages of 6 months and 24 years old
  • people ages of 25 through 64 years of age who are at higher risk for 2009 H1N1 because of chronic health disorders or compromised immune systems.

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