If Swine Flu Bothers You – This News Will Really Freak You Out
If I was to ask you how lethal the current swine flu strain is, you would probably say “not very?” and hope that things are going to stay that way. Well, me too. But I have also been looking at this thing more closely, and the number I come up with for the mortality rate is about 3 in every 10,000 new infections. At least, that’s how swine flu has been behaving up until mid 2009. Of course, things can always change overnight, and that is why we have several major vaccine companies racing to get a vaccine into the hands of the public before it is truly needed.
But that mortality rate is surprisingly low. Especially when you consider that the last time an H1N1 swine flu virus began spreading unchecked in the human population it eventually morphed into a killer that was capable of killing roughly 500 of every 10,000 people newly infected. In some small and socially remote communities the mortality rate reached a level equivalent to a stunning 9,000 of every 10,000 new infections. This makes the current swine flu virus with its 3 in 10,000 seem like small potatoes indeed.
Just keep in mind that the 1918 strain started out as small potatoes too, and took six months or so to ramp up the numbers. No one knows if that might happen again, but nobody who understands the highly mutating nature of influenza A is prepared to rule it out either. The amazing thing I learned, while reading Survive Pandemic Flu, is that even if the current swine flu strain never manages to become more deadly than it is right now, we could still see a repeat of 1918 from none other than the original virus itself.
How is that possible, you ask? It turns out that through an amazing chain of events starting with Abraham Lincoln, who issued a proclamation to study diseases on the battlefield during the Civil War, and ending with a molecular biologist who was able to string the virus back together in 2005 after it had been dead for nearly nine decades, the monster strain is alive and well and ready to wreak havoc again the moment somebody in the lab gets sloppy with their safety protocols.
So do not let the slowness with which the new swine flu strain is becoming more threatening lull you into complacency about pandemic influenza.