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Recalculating the Tally in Swine Flu Deaths

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  • Recalculating the Tally in Swine Flu Deaths

    Recalculating the Tally in Swine Flu Deaths
    Published: November 10, 2009
    About 4,000 Americans — rather than about 1,200 — have died of swine flu since the disease emerged in April, according to new figures being calculated by epidemiologists for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
    The larger number of deaths does not mean the virus is more dangerous. Rather, it is a new estimate made by combining deaths from laboratory-confirmed cases of the flu and deaths that appear to be brought on by flu, even though the patient may have ultimately died of bacterial pneumonia, other infections or organ failure.

    The new estimate of deaths — actually a range both larger and smaller than 4,000 — will not be released until sometime next week because the centers’ consultants are still looking over the figures, said Glen Nowak, a C.D.C. spokesman.
    The new estimate will be a more accurate comparison to the 36,000 deaths from seasonal flu each year, he said. That estimate is also based on confirmed cases as well as hospital reports of people who appear to have died after a bout of flu. Over 90 percent of seasonal flu victims are over 65, and many are bedridden or in nursing homes or have serious medical problems like cancer or heart disease that the flu worsens.

    The new estimate “does sound much more reasonable,” said Ira M. Longini Jr., a flu epidemiologist at the University of Washington. “It doesn’t surprise me that it’s higher.”

    Michael T. Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, said the new estimate was more accurate “but doesn’t change the decisions you’d make from a public health perspective.”

    “If it was 40,000 deaths rather than 4,000, that would be different,” Dr. Osterholm said.

    Twitter: @RonanKelly13
    The views expressed are mine alone and do not represent the views of my employer or any other person or organization.

  • #2
    Re: Recalculating the Tally in Swine Flu Deaths

    New U.S. swine flu death estimates will be guess
    Wed Nov 11, 2009 6:57pm EST

    Tuesday, 3 Nov 2009 10:13pm EST
    By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Editor - Analysis
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. health officials are due to release new estimates of deaths from swine flu on Thursday, but the numbers will be just that -- a rough estimate.

    The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization stopped trying to count actual cases months ago, once it became clear that H1N1 was a pandemic that would infect millions.

    There are nowhere near enough diagnostic tests to give to everyone with flu-like symptoms to see if they really have swine flu, and autopsies have shown that some people who have died had H1N1 and no one even knew it.


    It is possible that these younger patients may be more likely to survive their bout of flu, even if they have chronic conditions.

    Doctors are comparing information about who is the most likely to die.


    A study in The Lancet medical journal released late on Wednesday shows that in Mexico, where the new flu appears to have spread first last March, young people were the most likely to be infected but elderly were most likely to die.


    The Mexican study also found that infants and people aged 39 years and under were the most likely to get infected, but that far fewer than 1 percent of these patients died.

    Ten percent of patients over 70 who were treated in clinics died, they found.

    They found that 4.5 percent of patients aged 50 to 59 died, but just 2.7 percent of those in their 40s and 2 percent of patients in their 30s.

    These were all people who attended clinics that were part of the Mexican Institute for Social Security network, the Institute's Victor Borja-Aburto and colleagues reported, so milder cases for which patients did not seek treatment were not included in the analysis.

    Mexicans who had been vaccinated for seasonal influenza had a 35 percent lower risk of getting H1N1, even though the seasonal flu vaccine offers no protection against the new virus.

    Every day of delay in hospital admission after the fourth day of illness raised the risk of death by almost 20 percent, Borja-Aburto's team found.

    The study shows hard it is to get a grip on flu deaths, as doctors cannot assess or count people who do not show up for treatment.

    And numbers take months to collect. The latest Mexican data includes cases from April to July.

    (Editing by Philip Barbara)
    Twitter: @RonanKelly13
    The views expressed are mine alone and do not represent the views of my employer or any other person or organization.


    • #3
      Re: Recalculating the Tally in Swine Flu Deaths

      Good grief!
      "I know God will not give me anything I can't handle. I just wish that He didn't trust me so much." - Mother Teresa of Calcutta