Saturday, May 2, 2009

Swine Flu and Flu of 1918

The current influenza epidemic needs to be put into historical context. The influenza epidemic of 1918 was brought home by the troops at the close of world war 1. It spread to other countries because of the war and crowded conditions. But it did not spare any place in the world. It affected primarily young adults, as does the current flu. It had a infectious rate of 50% which means that during that epidemic it infected more than 1/2 the population of the world or just over 1 billion people. It has been estimated that about 25% of the U.S. population contracted it. 10 times the number of people in the U.S. died from the flu than died in WWI. It has been said that more died in a single year than died n 4 years of the black death during the years 1347-1351. It had a death rate of about 2.5 to 5%, which means 50-100 million people died world wide. We have been able to take tissues that have been preserved from that time in the 1990's and type the flu genetically. It is a type A influenza of H1N1 type. That type is the same as the current flu. That is why health officials are worried. Now for the goofy stuff. Egypt raises pigs for the christian minority to consume. They slaughter the entire population. This indicates two things poor understanding of the science, since Egypt has not had a single case yet. It is spread human to human. I suspect a second reason. In Islam the pig is unclean and since disease is the work of the devil, kill the pigs. Secondary gain would be at the Christians. Next, homeopathy is claiming success. Homeopathy is water with a claim of memory. How do you make the water have memory of the flu, put someone's snot who had the flu into the typical dilutions of homeopathy and give it. Remember it has a mortality rate very small, so most are going to survive anyway. Just because the homeopathies claim cure, they were going to get better anyway. We don't have a vaccine yet. If you cover your nose when you sneeze or cough and wash your hands that alone will decrease spread by 50%. The current strain seems to have run its course in Mexico and isn't as deadly here in the U.S. for some reason, we don't understand yet. But it is good science and common sense that will get us through it. Be Skeptical!

Skeptical DoDo

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