Tuesday, April 28, 2009

CNN Offers Reality Check for Swine Flu Fervor: 36,000 in USA Die from Flu Each Year

The swine flu has captured the headlines. It has killed over 100 people in Mexico, and several Americans are now infected with the virus. President Obama has declared a health emergency, and my liberal colleagues have bashed Republicans for failing to link preparations for a feared yet uncertain pandemic with efforts to stimulate the dying economy.

HOLD ON. In a stunning move, CNN has offered a sane perspective in the midst of a media storm regarding the swine flu. Normally, CNN fans the flames of public melodrama, but an article published on CNN.Com makes the practical point that each year, 36, 000 people in the U.S. die from the "regular" flu. In fact, since January, 13,000 people have died from flu-related deaths in the U.S. Also, the CDC has reported at least 800 flu-related deaths each week between January 1 and April 18.

Here is a clip from the CNN article:
People are nervous about swine flu, but the regular flu kills 36,000 people a year in the United States.

That one? The regular flu.

An outbreak of swine flu that is suspected in more than 150 deaths in Mexico and has sickened dozens of people in the United States and elsewhere has grabbed the attention of a nervous public and of medical officials worried the strain will continue to mutate and spread.

Experts are nervous that, as a new strain, the swine flu will be harder to stop because there aren't any vaccines to fight it.

But even if there are swine-flu deaths outside Mexico -- and medical experts say there very well may be -- the virus would have a long way to go to match the roughly 36,000 deaths that seasonal influenza causes in the United States each year.

"That happens on an annual basis," Dr. Brian Currie said Tuesday. Currie is vice president and medical director at Montefiore Medical Center in Bronx, New York.
Of course, no vaccine exists for the swine flu, which has caused concern among medical professionals and the public. Nevertheless, in order to encourage a healthy public response, public health officials must place the swine flu in a greater context. If the CNN article is a reliable indicator, some health authorities are already doing so. I concur!


Angela said...

Thank you Professor Hutchinson! I wish the mainstream media would report these facts instead of leading with doom and gloom everyday.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Hi, Angela: I concur! Until I say this article, I was bracing for horror stories. I remember the SARS scare as well.

Anonymous said...


Your blog is regularly awesome. I don't know why I haven't been subscribing so far, but pointing out this hysteria in context reminds me that I should. Count yourself another reader!

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