Swine Flu Outbreak: How Bad Could It Be?

How about 1918 bad. That’s apparently the last time a flu virus was specifically more fatal to the young and healthy than children and the elderly and the Spanish Flu epidemic killed fifty million people world wide. Granted back then sick people didn’t have cheap over the counter medicines that could help them through an illness like Americans do now, nor the ability to maintain hygienic conditions with good quality sanitizing products, but with Mexico’s fatality rate so far looking to be at 7% I’m finding it hard to be nonchalant about this potential pandemic.

I became aware of the epidemic in Mexico Saturday when the numbers were small but worrisome. 800 infected in Mexico with over 20 confirmed fatalities and eight suspected cases here. Now there are a confirmed 1300 infected in Mexico with over 100 fatalities and at least 30 cases all over the United States. New York, Kansas, Ohio, Texas and California have had confirmed Swine flu infections. There’s a map charting the infections here. Canada, Spain, France and London may also have cases.

I have seen unconfirmed reports that there are Swine Flu infections in Alabama.

The C.D.C has admitted that the seasonal flu vaccines people have taken will not be effective against this new strain. Governments around the world are beginning quarantines of anyone suspected of having the virus, as well as tightening restrictions on pork products and travel.

There isn’t a lot of information out there, the C.D.C page on the outbreak is nothing you haven’t heard on the news. Oddly the deaths have so far been limited to Mexico, although they were all young healthy people. I would theorize that although Mexico City is as urban as any U.S. city, Americans in general have more access to potentially life saving items and luxuries than the average Mexican. Cheap over-the-counter medicine and central air conditioning may, among other things, really be making a difference in the outcome of a nasty bug. On the other hand, there is such a small sample of cases thus far that we won’t know how lethal this new flu is until we have infection numbers similar to Mexico.

Right now no one can tell you honestly how bad this may get, but those with a survivalist mindset (myself included) are taking precautions. If it’s possible, stay home for the next few days and get plenty of liquids in the house and stock up on fever reducing medications as well as the regular flu stuff you keep in the house. Don’t wait to pick up supplies, if more people get sick there will be runs on grocery stores and those crowds may be full of infected people. Many people are recommending you buy breathing masks, but if you don’t already have them going to stores where sick people may be congregating to get them (pharmacies and the like) isn’t a better plan than laying low. You can buy many items online if you can wait a few days for them. The only reason for you to be in a store for the next couple of days is if you don’t have necessities like food, water and toilet paper on hand.

There are already rumors circulating about the flu designed to make you panic. I have seen several comments implying that this was a bio-terror attack by the United States on Mexico and much is being made on various conspiracist forums I will never link to of the death of Felipe Solis just hours after meeting our President. Some newshounds are pointing out that this outbreak came only days after Fort Detrick began an investigation into missing viruses from their bio-warfare facility. It is an odd coincidence, but I have been told that samples turn up missing from government labs with a frequency that would alarm the public if they realized it. Depending on the amount of tin foil hattery in your area (and New York is lousy with people who believe in such nonsense) this sort of conspiracy mongering so early in the event is another reason to stay home if you can.

There’s no way to verify these statements, but readers have sent alarming stories to the BBC which imply that the situation in Mexico is worse than the media is letting on:

I’m a specialist doctor in respiratory diseases and intensive care at the Mexican National Institute of Health. There is a severe emergency over the swine flu here. More and more patients are being admitted to the intensive care unit. Despite the heroic efforts of all staff (doctors, nurses, specialists, etc) patients continue to inevitably die. The truth is that anti-viral treatments and vaccines are not expected to have any effect, even at high doses. It is a great fear among the staff. The infection risk is very high among the doctors and health staff.

There is a sense of chaos in the other hospitals and we do not know what to do. Staff are starting to leave and many are opting to retire or apply for holidays. The truth is that mortality is even higher than what is being reported by the authorities, at least in the hospital where I work it. It is killing three to four patients daily, and it has been going on for more than three weeks. It is a shame and there is great fear here. Increasingly younger patients aged 20 to 30 years are dying before our helpless eyes and there is great sadness among health professionals here.
Antonio Chavez, Mexico City

There are several more testimonies similar to this one. There is no way to know how many sicknesses and deaths slipped by the bureaucrats before the alerts were issued so the mortality rate for the flu may be higher or lower in Mexico than the 7% it’s at now.

Take the day off, buy as much food and water as you need and take a mini-vacation. I know it’s easy to say when you work at home as I do, but if you can stay off the streets do so until you’re sure this bug has mutated into a less lethal form. However there is no need to panic, yet. But it is time to get prepared. Except in Mexico most infections were no worse than the regular flu so stay cool. Water, food and toilet paper, if you don’t have enough to last you a week or more of staying home than get some now.

Cross posted at A.S.B.

Update: If you leave a comment with a link you may be put in moderation.

Here’s a link to a supposed real time infection map. Mexico has remained the epicenter with more than 1600 infected.

I have seen unconfirmed reports that there were more than 100 sick kids in the Queens prep school but only eight were tested originally. They all tested positive for Swine Flu. If true the C.D.C and DHS are playing fast and loose with the numbers in order to control the panic that will happen if people see a new virus spreading quickly. The official tally there is now 28 infected.

Gateway Pundit reports that we’re still not screening passengers arriving from Mexico.

Mexico City has been hit with an earthquake. The gods are angry down there.

The European Union is telling people not to travel to Mexico or America. Obama is not amused.

Update: A private school in South Carolina has been closed after kids coming from Mexico were found to have Flu-like symptoms. Greenville News (perhaps America’s worst newspaper)  gives bare bone details, omitting facts you may want to know like where the school is located. The Newberry Academy website has a statement about the closure.

Update: English papers are reporting that they expect up to 40% of the British population to be infected.  U.S. officials are bracing the public for deaths from the Flu which they claim is inevitable. Two deaths in L.A. which were thought to be Swine Flu related are now claimed to be something else.

New York has “hundreds” of infected school children.

10 thoughts on “Swine Flu Outbreak: How Bad Could It Be?

  1. In 1918:

    In large U.S cities, more than 10,000 deaths per week were attributed to the virus. It is estimated that as many as 50% of the population was infected, and ~1% died. To compare, in “normal” (interpandemic) years, it is estimated that between 10-20% of the population is infected, with a .008% mortality.

    The fact the current ‘swine flu’ has shown to be contagious is alarming. So far the virus has shown to have a 6% to 6.3% mortality rate. It may not seem like much, but please consider the following: The deadly influenza panic in 1918 had a mortality rate of under 1%.

    This virus went on to kill tens of thousands of healthy people a day in large cities and up to 100 million people world wide.

    Viruses, like this strain of swine flu, kill their host by over-stimulating active immune systems that are robust and healthy. That is why the victims in Mexico were between the ages of 20 and 45.

    Some have said that no one in the United States have died from the virus, so we need not worry. Experts say it is only a matter of time. The virus is not prevalent enough to reach statistical significance in the United States, with only a handful of confirmed cases. 93.7% of all Mexicans with the virus recovered.

    More cause for worry: The 1918 virus started off ‘mild’ before it mutated into a raging storm. It also does not mean we will see millions of deaths. It is too early to draw sweeping conclusions. Nevertheless, there is potential for a disastrous pandemic. If 50% of Americans catch this flu in the next two years, and the mortality rate stays at 6.3%, we would witness 20+ million deaths.

    This strain of virus is more potent and more deadly than the virus that hammered the world in 1918 and 1919. Viruses come in waves. There are striking similarities to this virus and the virus that killed up to 100 million people in 1918. The first wave is historically more mild than the later waves.

    In addition to this virus becoming more severe, it is mutating faster than previous virus that we have seen. In addition, this virus is nothing like we have ever seen before because it combines features from viruses natural in different parts of the globe. We are in uncharted territory.

    If it follows the same path as the 1918 flu, we will see very damaging results. However, we must remember we are a global society now and the virus can spread quicker than we have ever witnessed in history. This is very concerning especially since the drugs we have now seem resistant.

    While there have been no deaths in America, it is shadowed by the fact the common variable among the deaths seem to be age. While most American cases have involved the very young and very old (under 10 and over 50) the Mexican cases that ended fatally involved the robust and healthy (over 20 and under 45).

    This virus kills the host by over-stimulating the immune system. The term that is used when the immune system over reacts is called a Cytokine Storm. It is usually fatal. During this “Storm” over 150 inflammatory mediators are released. This would account for the high mortality rate in 1918-19.


  2. How scary! Rob, I’m so glad you covered this. I don’t always follow the news closely and I didn’t realize how bad it was until I was reading your blog today…and now Barb’s comment too! Not that it will probably help much, but I’m going out and getting vitamins and zinc as well as cold meds and supplies.

  3. The idiotic 9/11 “Truth” Movement is already spinning the story that the U.S. government was “behind” the swine flu virus. This is old classic Soviet KGB propaganda which these idiots are recycling.

    Obama’s twenty-sum year former pastor Jeremiah Wright said something very similar about HIV/AIDS. Do these idiots realize that their disinformation will hurt the USA? Apparently they don’t care about that.

    I have also already detailed that there is a segment of Russian citizens whom still see the USA as the “enemy”. Even after the end of the Cold War. They also believe ihe same crap the 9/11 “Truth” Movement believes on thsi swine flu episode was an “inside job” by the U.S. government.

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  6. Give me a fucking break. More people die from car crashes, heart attacks, and food poisoning than from the “new” H1N1 strain. This is alarmist reaction at its finest.

    The “hard” numbers that the WHO and CDC put out are inconsequential. Even if you extrapolate these numbers out to ridiculous amounts like 100x the statistical probability of death from this flu is pretty damned low.

    We’re a bunch of scared little children. Mark my words when I say this will be about as bad as SARS. You remember the SARS epidemic don’t you…? Oh yeah, that one didn’t last long.

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  8. It’s quite alarming to see how the various countries are reporting on the swine flu outbreaks.
    Here in Spain I get to see CNN, BBC news from the UK and Spanish national news.
    CNN as usual give very comprehensive coverage without over dramatising the situation, the BBC try and portray this is a minor inconvenience to a vacation, possibly as the only ones with the illness have very mild symptoms, and the Spanish news portray this is as the end of the world as we know it, hide indoors until you are either dead or the last person left alive on this planet…
    Don’t you just love it!
    Personally I feel that the situation is being over played, OK sad for those families who have lost loved ones, but what about the average half a million deaths a year from other flu variations!
    Just keep an open mind, check with a doctor if you get any of the symptoms, and cancel that trip to Mexico until it’s all over…

  9. I think that this flu is a sighn of the end of days! It is the pale sickly horse found in the bible. Does anyone not seem alarmed about this ?

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