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WHO Says Swine Flu May Have Peaked In the US

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the also-reportedly-stole-the-cookie-from-the-cookie-jar dept.

Medicine 138

Hugh Pickens writes "The World Health Organization says that there were 'early signs of a peak' in swine flu activity in parts of the Northern Hemisphere, including the US. The American College Health Association, which surveys more than 250 colleges with more than three million students, said new flu cases had dropped 27 percent in the week ending on November 13th from the week before, the first drop since school resumed in the fall. Nonetheless, Dr. Anne Schuchat, the director of vaccination and respiratory disease at the CDC, chose her words carefully. 'We are in better shape today than we were a couple of weeks ago,' she says. 'I wish I knew if we had hit the peak. Even if a peak has occurred, half the people who are going to get sick haven't gotten sick yet.' Privately, federal health officials say they fear that if they concede the flu has peaked, Americans will become complacent and lose interest in getting vaccinated, increasing the chances of another wave. However, Dr. Lone Simonsen, a former CDC epidemiologist, says she expects a third wave in December or January, possibly beginning in the South again. Based on death rates in New York City and in Scandinavia, Simonsen argues that both 1918 and 1957 had mild spring waves followed by two stronger waves, one in fall and one in midwinter, adding that in the pandemic of 1889, the bulk of the deaths occurred in the third wave. 'If people think it's going away, they can think again.'"

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Who? (5, Funny)

Lord Lode (1290856) | more than 3 years ago | (#30185018)

Who says it? Well, it wasn't me.

Re:Who? (0, Redundant)

gmagill (105538) | more than 3 years ago | (#30185032)

Who's on first!

Re:Who? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30185476)

You should have gone with "First base!".

Re:Who? (1)

Ken_g6 (775014) | more than 3 years ago | (#30185674)

Perhaps it was a doctor [doctor-who-toys.com] ?

Re:Who? (2, Funny)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 3 years ago | (#30186266)

Which Doctor?

Re:Who? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30186724)

A witch doctor??

Re:Who? (1)

hazem (472289) | more than 3 years ago | (#30186066)

What? I don't know.

Re:Who? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30187510)

Third base!

Re:Who? (1)

cupantae (1304123) | more than 3 years ago | (#30186324)

-What's the name of the organisation that said it?!
-No, WHAT [wikipedia.org] just mentioned it between songs.

Who? (1)

Kickasso (210195) | more than 3 years ago | (#30186326)

The president of China, that's who.

The Doctor! (1)

Snaller (147050) | more than 3 years ago | (#30186520)

Doctor Who of course.

Re:Who? (1)

ari_j (90255) | more than 3 years ago | (#30186744)

No, Well It Wasn't Me is the shortstop!

I actually have a complete mental block that keeps me from reading headlines involving the WHO as anything but the British rock band The Who. So then I end up with bizarre lyrics stuck in my head:

Swine flu may have peaked in the US
Talkin' 'bout my generation...

Re:Who? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30187168)

Since Who is on first, I'm pretty sure he had nothing to do with this.
Maybe it was "I don't know" but I believe he's on third.

Who are you? (0, Redundant)

XiX36 (715429) | more than 3 years ago | (#30185066)

WHO. Who? WHO. Who? I really wanna know!

"Pandemics" are the new "terrorists". (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30185114)

Apparently the "terrorist" threat is getting old and worn out, so now the media and politicians have to trumpet the "pandemic" threat.

I wonder what next week's threat will be. Maybe it'll come back to "communists" again.

Re:"Pandemics" are the new "terrorists". (2, Funny)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 3 years ago | (#30185512)

So what country do we have to invade to fight against the pandemists?

Re:"Pandemics" are the new "terrorists". (3, Informative)

NotBornYesterday (1093817) | more than 3 years ago | (#30185738)

Where else? Pandemistan.

I think you are correct. (1)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | more than 3 years ago | (#30185600)

CBS News, the New York Times, and other publications suggest that your skepticism is correct: Be skeptical about flu reports. [futurepower.net] There appears to be manipulation of government warnings to increase profit for vaccine makers.

Re:I think you are correct. (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 3 years ago | (#30186108)

Considering that the majority of deaths in the so-called flu pandemic of 1918 were actually [gaia-health.com] from tuberculosis (which would have made it a tuberculosis pandemic) and pneumonia [wikipedia.org] ...

Just like today, it was mostly killing off people who had weakened immune systems and chronic diseases.

Re:I think you are correct. (1)

Urkki (668283) | more than 3 years ago | (#30186660)

Considering that the majority of deaths in the so-called flu pandemic of 1918 were actually [gaia-health.com] from tuberculosis (which would have made it a tuberculosis pandemic) and pneumonia [wikipedia.org] ...

Just like today, it was mostly killing off people who had weakened immune systems and chronic diseases.

Are you implying that it's ok that those who died, died (and are going to die in this pandemic)?

I hope not!

Also, those diseases don't really kill anybody. What ultimately kills in almost all disease related deaths is lack of oxygen in the brain, caused for example by heart stopping.

Re:I think you are correct. (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 3 years ago | (#30187238)

Three points to consider, which may sound harsh (and they are), but reality bites:

1. "Pandemic" - you keep using that word, but I think you don't know what it means. It means it's spreading. It does not mean that it's deadly. A new strain of rhinovirus can become pandemic, and yet nobody has to die from it, or even get more than the sniffles.

2. The morbidly obese are going to die anyway. Look up the term "morbid" - when you're that fat, maybe the idea that the flu can kill you might motivate you to lose some weight instead of whining about how fat people are discriminated against. Diseases don't care - they have always discriminated against the weakest, and morbid obesity is a lifestyle disease. Don't want a lifestyle disease and all the problems that go with it? Change your lifestyle. Can't be arsed to change your lifestyle? Then I support your right to decide to die. If your life isn't worth it to you, it certainly isn't to me.

3. We already have too many people, and fat people consume 18% more resources than normal-weight people, and as a result, make a larger contribution to global warming [slashdot.org] . (note who submitted it :-) They also help to keep food prices higher, etc. So the flu is actually going to reduce these peoples' carbon footprint. Having all the fat people develop healthy lifestyles would do more for global warming than diddling with changes to daylight savings time, compact fluorescent lightbulbs, and ethanol combined.

They can choose to lose weight, and reduce their risk profile. It's entirely up to them. As one doctor put it, of the 10 that died in his hospital, 9 were morbidly obese, the other one also very fat. In another hospital, all the infant deaths were probably better off - really marginal cases, delaying the inevitable, etc.

Besides, maybe this will help motivate people to start telecommuting. We have the technology, it would save energy AND reduce people who are such schmucks that they go to work sick and cough all over the place because they want to save their "sick days" for doing something fun.

If you encounter that, leave, call your boss, tell him the workplace is a bio-hazard, and you'll come back when it's safe. Work is not something worth getting sick over - especially when you'll end up losing more time and $$$ in the long run.

Re:"Pandemics" are the new "terrorists". (1)

mini me (132455) | more than 3 years ago | (#30185822)

I am certain that the next one will be how the internet is enabling countries like China and India to take jobs away from the USA. People, afraid for their livelihood, will pressure the government into placing heavy restrictions on internet content and distribution.

who? us? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30185120)

'who says'? 'In the us'?

How long before this is a pre existing condition? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30185148)

How long before this is a pre existing condition?

Relevance (4, Insightful)

Pete Venkman (1659965) | more than 3 years ago | (#30185154)

Isn't the peak something that you talk about later when you are analyzing the data? Of what relevance is it to discuss a peak in this current cycle?

Re:Relevance (0, Redundant)

Giantpants (1683572) | more than 3 years ago | (#30187378)

Here here....

Re:Relevance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30187506)

new flu cases had dropped 27 percent in the week ending on November 13th from the week before, the first drop since school resumed in the fall.

It is later, and they analyzed the data. It's in the very first sentence of the summary. Is this the new slashdot meme, to have to tell people to RTFS? What next, RTFH when people start commenting on the story without even reading the headline?

Where does the money go? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30185172)

I'm somehow sceptic about the whole hype around the swine flu based on the fact that the U.S. Government alone paid nearly a billion $ for the vaccine http://sanfrancisco.bizjournals.com/sanfrancisco/stories/2009/07/13/daily26.html [bizjournals.com] , much more globally. I mean, the swine flu is even less hazardous than the normal flu, and with some good care for the immune system it does not cause much problems, so is it really necessary to spread a big panic and spend that amount of money? I mean, that's a lot of money. Really.

Re:Where does the money go? (0, Offtopic)

Killall -9 Bash (622952) | more than 3 years ago | (#30185256)

H1N1 killed my father..... and raped my mother.

Re:Where does the money go? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30185660)

SARS rickrolled me.

Re:Where does the money go? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30186170)

H1N1 sez: Yes, I did. I'm really sorry, too, 'cause your mother would have tasted so good with some fava beans and a nice chianti, and your father's ass would have been a 'way better fuck..... H1N1 FTW!

Re:Where does the money go? (4, Insightful)

Afforess (1310263) | more than 3 years ago | (#30185438)

Because the lost productivity from having massive amounts of the workforce absent due to illness, never mind the costs of delays and other problems would cost us more than one billion.

(Swine Flu) A virus that was super-contagious and infected nearly everyone, and got them sick for 2 weeks, but barely anyone would die from would be far more economically damaging than a virus that was not very contagious, but killed all those it infected. (HIV)

This is because our economy was never meant to handle a mass exodus of workers. We're lucky it wasn't worse than it was. In places in Michigan, 1/2 of entire counties got sick, and schools and businesses were closed for days.

Just because You didn't get sick doesn't mean the illness is trivial.

Re:Where does the money go? (2, Insightful)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 3 years ago | (#30186136)

(Swine Flu) A virus that was super-contagious and infected nearly everyone,

... except that H1N1 isn't "super contagious" - it's not even as contagious as regular flu. The hype from Mexico was wrong - of the 152 people who supposedly died from it (which is what made people thinkit was highly contagious), revised figures showed only 7 actually did.

The big lesson here is don't listen to Fox News and CNN, and don't let Fox News and CNN dictate government policy. (And I'd blame WHO and CDC for part of this as well - they have a financial and institutional interest in keeping the hype going well after it was obvious it was mostly bullshit).

Re:Where does the money go? (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 3 years ago | (#30186140)

Any company that goes under that quickly was standing at the edge of the abyss, this is nowhere near an economy killer. Unless the US is standing on the edge of the abyss, but that's a different problem entirely. The economy can have setbacks without going into a Great Depression II death spiral, and temporary things like people falling sick for a few weeks isn't it. There's far bigger structural issues that the US is struggling with, right now they seem to go for the credit card trap - taking up more debt to make payment but will end up in a worse position than where they started. I'm curios to see what the world will look like in 2015, there will be Change and I don't mean Obama.

Re:Where does the money go? (1)

Anpheus (908711) | more than 3 years ago | (#30187416)

You know how tempermental customers are, even when dealing with other businesses. Is IBM or Microsoft going to be hurt by the swine flu? A bit. I'm sure there were setbacks as some people came ill. But the business as a whole kept chugging on.

When your payroll is less than ten thousand employees or you're centrally located, then it can be much worse.

Re:Where does the money go? (1)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 3 years ago | (#30186490)

The media circus around it is the only reason anything happened this year different than last year.

Considering the amount of FUD spread by the media, the numbers for flu cases and deaths this year isn't really higher than normal. If everyone was as paranoid about the flu every year, we'd see pretty much the same thing.

Take a good look at the CDCs weekly states for this flu season, its really not that bad. The difference is everyone saying 'OMG I GOT SWINE FLUZ I'M GONNA DIE STAY AWAY AND SAVE YOURSELF!@$!@%!@#^!#@%'

Re:Where does the money go? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30186796)

Because the lost productivity from having massive amounts of the workforce absent due to illness, never mind the costs of delays and other problems would cost us more than one billion.

(Swine Flu) A virus that was super-contagious and infected nearly everyone, and got them sick for 2 weeks, but barely anyone would die from would be far more economically damaging than a virus that was not very contagious, but killed all those it infected. (HIV)

  This is because our economy was never meant to handle a mass exodus of workers. We're lucky it wasn't worse than it was. In places in Michigan, 1/2 of entire counties got sick, and schools and businesses were closed for days.

  Just because You didn't get sick doesn't mean the illness is trivial.

Fortunately for us here in Michigan, nobody was working anyway

Re:Where does the money go? (1)

thomasw_lrd (1203850) | more than 3 years ago | (#30186820)

I'm not disagreeing with you, but I never heard of such data from any news source. Do you have a link for it?

Re:Where does the money go? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30187152)

Swine Flu) A virus that was super-contagious and infected nearly everyone, and got them sick for 2 weeks, but barely anyone would die from would be far more economically damaging than a virus that was not very contagious, but killed all those it infected. (HIV)

This is because our economy was never meant to handle a mass exodus of workers.

And then came the internet. It is time to enable that working distance working..

Re:Where does the money go? (3, Informative)

fusellovirus (1386571) | more than 3 years ago | (#30185506)

the reason for concern is legitimate, albeit possibly overtcautipus. Two traits make this flu serious. One is the observation that a higher percentage of deaths are occuring in young people and two is that, being a strain with genes that have recently jumped from swine and possibly birds makes it less stable.

Re:Where does the money go? (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 3 years ago | (#30185826)

Except that:

A. The only reason for the higher death rate in young people is that we're seeing significant immunity in older people as a result of exposure to several similar strains in the past. Therefore, the proportional death rate in young people is high because they're the only ones getting it. The odds of dying from it if you catch it are not much higher than seasonal flu---less than a factor of two or so in the U.S., IIRC, which is bad, but not "kills a third of the population" bad or anything.

B. We're seeing mutations just like seasonal flu, but no sudden mutation to being highly fatal. If anything, it seems to be getting milder with time. And if we saw that sort of mutation occur, odds are good that the protein coat would change enough to render any existing vaccine ineffectual anyway.

Re:Where does the money go? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30185994)

Both points are true but I don't see how that decreases the appropriateness of the the vaccine. the fact that flu rates are similar to seasonal flu despite a substantial portion of the most succeptable being resistant suggests a worse than usual strain. The observation that H1N1 is getting milder is a good sign, but at the onset of the pandemic one cannot tell if this will be the case, or if something similar to 1918 would be the case. Given the low cost and few side effects of the vaccine it still seems like a reasonable thing to take.

Re:Where does the money go? (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 3 years ago | (#30186206)

Simple - if it mutates, the vaccine us useless. If you're healthy, the vaccine is useless. If you take normal precautions, the vaccine is useless.

If, on the other hand you're an obese tub of lard with other pre-existing conditions from lifestyle diseases, you'll just die a bit younger. And in the 1918 "flu pandemic", most deaths were from pneumonia and tuberculosis - not flu. Even then, the flu was just being opportunistic.

And we knew before the "onset" of the current "pandemic" that it wasn't going to be one - the original "death toll" of 152 in Mexico was really [wordpress.com] only 7 [wiseupjournal.com] .

What a fuck-up. 7. Not 152. 7. Not "highly contagious". 7. Billions of dollars wasted on a flu that's not even as bad as the regular flu, because people are fucktards who are easily panicked because they don't use their heads. up to 500,000 people die of the flu every year - this one hasn't even hit 7,000. It's nothing. Spending half the money on better nutrition and cutting back on smoking (obesity and smoking kill 10 million people a year) makes more sense.

Re:Where does the money go? (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#30186598)

Simple - if it mutates, the vaccine us useless. If you're healthy, the vaccine is useless. If you take normal precautions, the vaccine is useless.

All those points are wrong. A vaccine might still provide partial resistance even to a mutation. If you have the flu, you aren't healthy. And you can still catch the flu, if you merely take normal precautions.

Re:Where does the money go? (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 3 years ago | (#30187084)

Long-term, partial resistance is worse than no resistance, since your body will try to use antibodies that show a partial effect rather than try to generate a proper immune response. This is why the latest study shows that people who get vaccinated for flu end up getting it twice as often.

If you have the flu, big deal. It's not going to kill you if you're healthy (statistically, if you're healthy, you're more likely to die getting hit by lightning than from this flu). And it's pretty hard to catch the flu if you take all the right precautions, like washing your hands, not hanging around carriers, not sharing keyboards, phones, etc., keeping common areas well ventilated, getting lots of sleep, eating right, not picking your nose (78% of the population picks their nose).

Getting the flu is no big deal. I've had it - once. All the other people who I've spoken to who don't bother with vaccines can only recall a maximum of 1 time that they've had it. Flu vaccines are a waste of money - they're for pussies like Kurt Greenbaum [kurtgreenbaum.com] .

Yeah right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30185982)

given that I have spent nearly 6 weeks in Hospital this year of which the majoriy was for Swine Flu I can't really see your point.
I've got Leukaemia. This means my immune system is shot to hell. At then of may, I basically didn't have one and kept infecting myself. Then in Sept, I got Swine Flu which developed into Pneumonia. I can tell you it is not very nice.

I got the Flu because someone sneezed on me while waiting at a supermarket queue. Thats all it takes and ...
Normal people with normal immune systems can shake it off pretty easily but there are huge parts of the polulation that don't have normal immune systems.

Re:Yeah right (0, Troll)

epilido (959870) | more than 3 years ago | (#30186242)

Congratulations you have avoided natural selection once again.......The "huge" parts of the population that do not have normal immune systems use a disproportionate amount of the healthcare dollars. If you were forced to pay your bills out of your pocket, I suspect you wouldn't go to the supermarket to get sneezed on.

The GP's assertion that the flu hype is a money making effort is in no way refuted by your claim 'that you got sick so there must be no hype'.

Epi

Re:Where does the money go? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30186196)

Excellent post
I have also been following the progress of H1N1, and it's really all about bullshitting the public for profit
The virus is much milder that many flu strains commonly spread during winter months
It is expected the vaccine will cripple and cause more deaths than any bug possibly could

Best way to void winter illness: take 10,000 IU Vitamin D3 (Cholecalciferol) per day. Additionally I take a quality daily supplement of Acai berry antioxidant product. I haven't been sick in over a year.
No, I don't live on a desert island. I mingle with sickly, runny nosed people every day.
I just don't get sick due to natural immune boosters as stated above.

You mean... (1, Insightful)

ChinggisK (1133009) | more than 3 years ago | (#30185184)

...we're *not* all gonna die? Shocking, I tell you, shocking.

Re:You mean... (0, Offtopic)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#30185262)

...we're *not* all gonna die? Shocking, I tell you, shocking.

Yes, we most certainly are going to die. Sorry, make your time.

Re:You mean... (0, Offtopic)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 3 years ago | (#30185412)

For great justice!

Re:You mean... (1, Redundant)

7213 (122294) | more than 3 years ago | (#30185294)

Nope, not all gonna die. But a large chunk of us are gonna feel horrible for 2-3 days, and then harbor a slowly diminishing cough for several weeks.

At least watching the talking heads scream "OMFG where all gonna die!!!!!11elevin" was entertaining when I couldn't get outa bed.

Re:You mean... (0, Offtopic)

Pecisk (688001) | more than 3 years ago | (#30185304)

I really hoped that it will solve all our problems for good. Now we will have to do something about ourselves. Damn.

Not me (1)

mangu (126918) | more than 3 years ago | (#30186902)

...we're *not* all gonna die?

I intend to outlive old age. By the time I reach my natural span, improvements in medicine will let me survive the next decades until a definitive cure for aging is found.

BS (2, Insightful)

dagamer34 (1012833) | more than 3 years ago | (#30185196)

You can't know something has peaked or bottomed out until way after the fact. It's like having a sign of relief when in the eye of a hurricane or ignoring the possibility of aftershocks from earthquakes.

Re:BS (0)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 3 years ago | (#30185798)

So you don't think it's worth trying to figure out whether, to use the hurricane metaphor, you're at the eye or the edge? You know, as a basis for deciding whether to start taking the storm shutters down and cleaning up the yard, or hunker down and wait for the next round? All predictions are inexact by their nature, epidemiological predictions no more (or less) so than meteorological ones. That doesn't mean they're not worth trying to make.

Re:BS (1)

mini me (132455) | more than 3 years ago | (#30185880)

This is more like saying a hurricane might be over while in the eye of the hurricane, where past hurricanes have had a history of dissipating when the eye reached this geographical location. It might not play out the same this time, but there is a pretty good chance that it will.

Re:BS (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#30185888)

You can't know something has peaked or bottomed out until way after the fact. It's like having a sign of relief when in the eye of a hurricane or ignoring the possibility of aftershocks from earthquakes.

They have pretty good infection models for the flu. So yes, they can have a good idea of when the flu peaks.

Re:BS (1)

Urkki (668283) | more than 3 years ago | (#30186710)

You can't know something has peaked or bottomed out until way after the fact. It's like having a sign of relief when in the eye of a hurricane or ignoring the possibility of aftershocks from earthquakes.

They have pretty good infection models for the flu. So yes, they can have a good idea of when the flu peaks.

Of course (as even the summary says) it's bitch that making and publishing a prediction may change the outcome :-). But I guess they can take that into account in their models too. So, when they report something like this, what do their models *really* say is likely to happen, hmm...

Re:BS (2, Interesting)

sjames (1099) | more than 3 years ago | (#30185902)

You can't be CERTAIN until after the fact, that's why the use of words and phrases like "hopeful", "may have", and even "I wish I knew".

For example, if you have observed both the leading and trailing walls of a hurricane pass you have reason to hope it's over. It COULD come back around or trigger a secondary storm, so you can't be sure but you have ample reason for hope (just don't bet your life on it).

At the same time it's intresting to see media sources desperately clinging to the "OMG! WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE!!!!" line in spite of strong evidence to the contrary. Anyone remember a year ago when the bird flu was going to kill us all? Where'd that go? IIRC, before that it was West Nile. That one kinda fizzled because there was no good vaccine to urge everyone to panic over.

I note that nobody's reminding people that a great way to avoid exposure to either flu is to avoid crowded shopping malls and "doorbuster" sales.

I suppose next year, after the stats are all in the panic will be the seasonal flu which is MORE DEADLY THAN SWINE FLU!!!!! Only they'll refer to it as H?N? so it sounds more mysterious.

Re:BS (1)

zombie_striptease (966467) | more than 3 years ago | (#30186270)

Uh, that may not be the best metaphor for the point you want to make. Being in the eye of the hurricane usually does mean that you're about half-done with it, which is all the WHO is cautiously suggesting now.

Re:BS (1)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 3 years ago | (#30186564)

True, but we're can pretty accurately say it. See the interesting thing about 'the swine flu' is that if you account for the media FUD skewing the numbers then it really ISN'T THAT DIFFERENT THAN EVERY OTHER YEAR.

Yes there are more reports this year, because 90% of the public who would have just 'had the flu' and kept going like they have every other year for the past several thousand, this year they stay home. They went to the doctor. They told their friends. They made others stay away from them and stayed home.

If you treat this like every other year, and account for the difference in numbers caused by media FUD, then they can make some pretty accurate predictions. The most important factor is that this particular strain of the flu is a 'get it once and don't get it ever again' kind of strain. In most seasons you will get infected more than once. You won't with this strain, which is why people born in the 50s or earlier have nothing to worry about. They've already had it and as STILL immune to it.

When you look at it that way, and take into account that by this point pretty much EVERYONE has got it, then its a safe bet that we've hit the peak, unless it suddenly mutates which would make it fall well outside the normal. Its possible but unlikely.

Yes, it is less now ... (3, Informative)

kbahey (102895) | more than 3 years ago | (#30185358)

Here in Canada, my doctor said yesterday that he is seeing a drop in people coming in with flu symptoms. It used to be more in the past few weeks.

Also, Google Flu Trends [google.org] shows a marked drop. In the USA [google.org] , there is a drop too.

I have also observed less absence at my little kid's school as well.

Seasonal flu wave yet to come (2, Interesting)

AlpineR (32307) | more than 3 years ago | (#30186194)

I wonder how bad the seasonal flu wave will be this year. With all the excitement about swine flu, seasonal flu vaccinations seem to be forgotten.

I've been undergoing cancer treatment for the past five years and usually get the shot to reduce the chance of getting the flu while I'm busy fighting something else. But this year my oncologist's office ran out of the vaccine between my monthly checkups. My backup plan is to get the shot at work or a drugstore, but I haven't seen any information about those clinics this year.

I won't be surprised if many people get the swine flu vaccine (or try to get it and fail), then figure they've taken care of the biggest threat and forget to prepare for seasonal flu.

News for nerds ... stuff that matters (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30185376)

Not sure why this story is on slashdot. We never leave our parent's basements, after all.

Re:News for nerds ... stuff that matters (3, Funny)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 3 years ago | (#30185486)

It tells you for how long the swine flu excuse will work.

What percentage died with and without vaccination? (2, Interesting)

scsirob (246572) | more than 3 years ago | (#30185390)

We are still struggling to find the real effects of vaccination in The Netherlands. Many people think they shouldn't bother.

So are there any statistics about fatality rate of swine flu versus 'regular' flu and also vaccinated vs. non-vaccinated?

Re:What percentage died with and without vaccinati (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30185544)

no statistics at all

Re:What percentage died with and without vaccinati (2, Informative)

fusellovirus (1386571) | more than 3 years ago | (#30185626)

I'm not sure about the Netherlands but the US uses the vaccine adverse event reporting system [hhs.gov] to track all vaccine associated illness and its public ally available....the side effects seem to be about the same as most seasonal flu shots.

Re:What percentage died with and without vaccinati (1)

Macrat (638047) | more than 3 years ago | (#30185688)

Well, the regular flu on average kills 30,000 per year in the US. The swine flu was projected to START at 40,000 and go as high at 100,000.

So far the swine flu has only killed 4,000.

And I bet there will be no coverage on how many die from the regular flu this season.

Re:What percentage died with and without vaccinati (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 3 years ago | (#30185926)

And so if we DID just watch the peak go by, that would imply a total of about 8,000 once the tail passes.

Re:What percentage died with and without vaccinati (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 3 years ago | (#30185964)

My current statistics is that in Norway a little over 20 people have died - most with complicating diseases - while 2-300 die each year in traffic accidents. In other words, I find it completely and utterly blown out of any proportion and there's probably not enough deaths to make decent statistics, not unless you gather all of them worldwide. I'm not getting vaccinated, and honestly they could have skipped the whole damn thing. Yes, some more people would lose a week's worth of work but they'd handle the flu and recover naturally, making them stronger. If and only if there is a much deadlier strain would I consider it.

Re:What percentage died with and without vaccinati (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30186096)

Recovering from the flu naturally makes you stronger? Are you basing it on that ludicrous notion that "anything that doesn't kill us makes us stronger?" You have some supporting evidence? Because the vaccine causes antibodies to form just like the disease would - but without the debilitating symptoms that prevent you from say working out or anything for several days. I'd think the people who went about their business without getting sick should prove "stronger" than ones who were mostly bedridden for a few days.

I've personally gotten the seasonal flu vaccine for the last 8 years (ever since my corporate medical department said I needed to get it before a trip to Singapore in November of 2001). It's free here though, so cost to me isn't part of the equation. But I haven't had the flu in 8 years. That betters my prior averages by quite a bit (I previously got it about every other or every third year).

Of course, there isn't enough of the H1N1 vaccine here, so I haven't gotten that - although my kids qualified so they got it and the seasonal one. I just got the seasonal.

Re:What percentage died with and without vaccinati (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30186144)

I can tell you one effect: I had the regular flu shot for eight years here in The Netherlands with no incidents including this year. Then I had the first shot against the new flu on Monday evening and I've had high fever for two days already (Friday and Saturday). Now I'm afraid I might pass it to my family so indeed I feel I should not have bothered.

Re:What percentage died with and without vaccinati (1)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 3 years ago | (#30186620)

The CDC has, somewhere buried on its site that I found a month or so back some states about the mortality rates, sorry I'm not going to bother to find you a link but if you look hard enough google will for you.

Summary:

This strain of H1N1 seasonal a. AKA the swine flu:
Mortality rate of %0.05

The standard average over the last 50 years or so for the seasonal strains combined is %0.16

So last year, 3 times more people would have died from the flu last year than this year. Total deaths accounted to it will be higher, EVERYONE is reporting when they get the flu this year do to paranoia caused by media FUD. Most of these people die from complications with other illness. These people in past years wouldn't have been counted as flu deaths because the level of 'awareness' was far lower. People just didnt' think to account it to the flu directly.

Google Flu Trends (2, Informative)

hweimer (709734) | more than 3 years ago | (#30185406)

Interestingly, Google Flu Trends [google.org] shows similar signs, although there the peak already occured in October.

Peak swine flu (2, Funny)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 3 years ago | (#30185446)

OK, peak oil is bad enough. But now also peak swine flu? Imagine the effects on the vaccine producers!

Re:Peak swine flu (1)

NotBornYesterday (1093817) | more than 3 years ago | (#30185768)

Damn. And I had just converted my SUV to run on swine flu.

Re:Peak swine flu (1)

Urkki (668283) | more than 3 years ago | (#30186762)

OK, peak oil is bad enough. But now also peak swine flu? Imagine the effects on the vaccine producers!

Don't worry, the viruses will come back. They always come back... They're patient, just biding their time.

Or, if they get bored waiting, they just release the sharks with lasers to shoot everybody who's immune. So don't get the vaccine! You've been warned now!

Theory, not history. (1, Insightful)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 3 years ago | (#30185494)

I'd be a lot more inclined to believe a well proven theory than simply looking at the history of past epidemics. With so much talk about history predicting the present, it indicates to me that the knowledge of how epidemics work and how viruses mutate is extremely poor. As an example, we can fairly accurately predict where a hurricane will move in the next few days, but I've never heard anyone say "well, in 1992 Hurricane Andrew went west, then south, then east. It's possible Hurricane XYZ might take a similar route!"

What WOULD be an interesting historical perspective would be comparing deaths, hospitalizations, etc of H1N1 with past pandemics. This wouldn't be predictive in any meaningful way, but it would put this pandemic in perspective. Obviously this is nothing compared to 1918, but how does it compare to the 1957-1958, or the 1968-1969 pandemics? Was the media response as crazy then as it is today? That might actually be very informative, rather than these nonsense largely ignorance based "predictions".

The WHO is horrible. (4, Funny)

Timosch (1212482) | more than 3 years ago | (#30185504)

They did horrible things, e.g. killing the electric car [wikipedia.org] , Sgt Pepper [filter-mag.com] , ...

Re:The WHO is horrible. (1)

Anonymous Struct (660658) | more than 3 years ago | (#30186852)

Not to mention that time they framed Roger Rabbit. How do they keep getting away with it?

yea, right (2, Insightful)

frovingslosh (582462) | more than 3 years ago | (#30185628)

So glad to hear it. Pay no attention to the mutated Tamiflu resistant versions that were reported in both Norway and North Carolina just yesterday.

Re:yea, right (1)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 3 years ago | (#30186630)

Yes, the media needs new FUD to keep their ratings up, way to fall for the trap.

Re:yea, right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30187258)

In the world of viruses, Tamiflu is considered as damage to be circumvented, just like the copyright protection of a piece of information in the community of people is.

That would be nice! (2, Interesting)

wwphx (225607) | more than 3 years ago | (#30185632)

This year I was diagnosed as being immune-compromised after having had pneumonia four times from February to June. They haven't shipped very much H1N1 vaccine to New Mexico, and it doesn't seem like any of it has made it to the southern part of the state where I live. Fortunately people like me with immune disorders have been recategorized as being in the priority group when vaccine does become available. If we're past the peak, then maybe people won't clamor as much for the vaccine and I'll have a better shot at getting inoculated as I must have the shot, can't have the nasal vaccine.

Re:That would be nice! (1)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 3 years ago | (#30186670)

I wish you luck, the media FUD that has made everyone paranoid and falsely inflated the statistics and people drive to get the vaccine is screwing you.

Unfortunately, whats going to happen is they'll just find a couple cases where the vaccine 'didn't work' and so it'll be a whole new paranoia and they'll stop producing the current vaccine in favor of a new one.

Is there supposed to be only one peak ? (2, Interesting)

Cochonou (576531) | more than 3 years ago | (#30185720)

It might very well be a local peak (temporally speaking). For instance, see the shape of the flu progression in France [google.org] , which was characterized by a peak in September. Now, it is rising again.

Re:Is there supposed to be only one peak ? (2, Insightful)

Escape From NY (1539983) | more than 3 years ago | (#30185864)

We might also see another peak if, for some reason, large numbers of people suddenly decide to congregate in a set geographic location like a shopping mall. Or maybe if groups of people gather in a self contained tube for hours at a time. Luckily, I can't imagine any reason for people to do either of these things in at least the next week or so.

Vaccine, what vaccine (1)

beernutmark (1274132) | more than 3 years ago | (#30185796)

Oh no, we are going to be discouraged from getting the vaccine that it looks like there is no hope of many of us getting anyway?!?! It took weeks for me to finally get my kids vaccinated and so far, in SLC,Ut anyway, there is no sign that I will be getting the vaccine for weeks or more anyway. It's going to be tough getting my kids their booster also. This has really been a disaster in distribution. Thank goodness this strain isn't as deadly as the 1918 one. Hopefully the CDC is learning something from this.

You know... (1)

JackPepper (1603563) | more than 3 years ago | (#30185852)

oil just peaked recently as well. I think unemployment is next.

Premature IMO. Thanksgiving will change that. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30185874)

So it's taken 2 months to get over entropy caused by the return to school, just in time for the entropy caused by everyone traveling home for thanksgiving to take over.

I suspect that the infection rate is about to soar again.

Baha Men (1)

dousette (562546) | more than 3 years ago | (#30185884)

Did anyone else read the title as the latest hit from Baha Men?

Go back to bed (1)

tirefire (724526) | more than 3 years ago | (#30185932)

For fuck's sake, people, swine flu is not a problem.

It is the flu. It is annoying. It is contagious. It might kill you if you already have pneumonia, and it might kill you if you are really young. This is normal behavior for the flu. It came from pigs, and this does not make a single god damned bit of difference.

Re:Go back to bed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30186090)

Well, it even did not come from the pigs... it's a big ploy to feed the health industry.

If vaccine was available, people would get it (2, Informative)

iamacat (583406) | more than 3 years ago | (#30185968)

Our whole family just had H1N1 and yet none of us could get a vaccine beforehand, not even our 2 year old daughter. If vaccine was available, all of us would have gotten it. To top the confusion, the doctor is still asking us to get the shot when it becomes available. Give me a frigging break.

Now what amazes me is that our daughter coughed for 2 days and then she was fine, while we are still sick after 3 weeks. Daycares must create some kind of mutant immune systems that put interspecies viruses to shame.

Re:If vaccine was available, people would get it (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 3 years ago | (#30186058)

"Now what amazes me is that our daughter coughed for 2 days and then she was fine, while we are still sick after 3 weeks."

Anecdotes /= data, but this appears to be pretty common. I've had post-flu bronchitis for a couple of weeks and some others locally for more than a month.

Re:If vaccine was available, people would get it (1)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 3 years ago | (#30186754)

First off, its not actually 'worse' than any other seasonal flu. Its actually less of a concern. You've just been involved in a media FUD campaign for ratings.

Second, it is in no way 'interspecies'. Pigs don't get 'infected with swine flu'. The 'swine flu' name comes from the fact that part of the DNA sequence for the virus is shared with a strain that pigs get. You can't get the strain that pigs get. Pigs can't get the strain you get.

Third, ALMOST EVERY SINGLE VIRUS IS THE EXACT SAME WAY. We're JUST NOW getting to the point where we can do DNA sequencing on the scale we need to detect this sort of stuff. This isn't anything new in any way, the only thing new is that this is something the media could pick up on and whip people into a frenzy to keep them listening.

Finally. Your daughter likely was already building up an immunity it it via seeing it in daycare. She probably got it in tiny enough doses that her immune system could combat it and when she was fully exposed from it being in your home she was better prepared to deal with it. Theres also the fact that she probably hasn't been sick enough times in her life yet to know to whine, bitch and moan about the flu like most adults do. Children typically show signs of illness a lot different than adults for many reasons. They of course have different immune systems. They typically don't realize they are 'feeling bad' when its minor, and even when they do its much harder for them to communicate it or realize they should communicate it at that stage.

This isn't a new strain, everyone born before roughly 1956 has an immunity too it. This strain is one that once you've fought it off, you won't get it again, you're body will deal with it for the rest of your life. There was an 'outbreak' of it during the 50s, because of that, everyone that got it back then isn't effected now. Of course there are a few people who didn't get it back then and are getting it now, but thats just the way it works.

Ad Hoc Medicine (1)

DynaSoar (714234) | more than 3 years ago | (#30186474)

We had a 1976 "pandemic" too. They called it off when 10 people got Guillian-Barre syndrome from the vaccinations. 25 have this time, and they haven't called it off yet. In neither case was morbidity or mortality of the 'swine flu' greater than that of common variants.

I've seen good evidence that someone innoculated against H1N1 only won't get it. I've seen none that shows they can't carry it. I've seen some that suggests those who get the "seasonal" vaccine only are more likely to get H1N1. There's enough "seasonal" vaccine for most everyone who wants it. H1N1 vaccine is going to run out before 30 million doses. Dispensing both until supply or demand dictates otherwise would therefore tend to perpetuate the H1N1 'pandemic'.

The physicians I've questioned agreed that the sole difference between "seasonal" and H1N1 is that the latter has no effective treatment. The sole effective treatment for "seasonal" is Tamiflu at US$90 per regimen. I hypothesize that if there were a $90 treatment regimen for H1N1, there wouldn't be a vaccine.

My friend got sick with some flu-like symptoms, but far more unlike flu. She went to her doctor and got tested for flu. It was negative. That was to be expected since she'd had the vaccine from his office. He prescribed Tamiflu anyway. $90 later she was sicker. So was I. A week and bottle of Keflex later our bronchitis was gone, and all it cost us in medications both helpful and not, office visits and lost income was $1500 plus half her allotted sick days for a year. The doctor's response when asked how he could justify treating something that wasn't there and charging for it was an ingratiating smile wrapped around a "Well, you're not sick anymore are you? OK then." My diagnosis and bottle of Keflex were both free from the VA, making the implication he did something right all the more galling.

Just a guess, but I'm thinking that the vaccine left her immunosuppresed while she developed the flu antibody load and made her susceptible to the bronchitis. I haven't seen anything from CDC on other morbidities subsequent to flu vaccines.

I also haven't fully wrapped my head around the 2006 patent for attenuated H1N1 apparently intended for preparing a vaccine for a pandemic (specified as such in the patent) when there was no sign of one occurring. Good guessing maybe. That doesn't address why the previous Big Scare, H5N1 (bird flu) produced no patent, vaccine, or pandemic.

The Who? (0, Offtopic)

marciot (598356) | more than 3 years ago | (#30186624)

Since when did The Who start making announcements about flu pandemics? Is this like a PSA with celebrity endorsements?

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