Friday, 18 September 2009

Swine Flu

In 2007 over five thousand infants and elderly people died from "human" influenza. The every day, run of the mill flu. This statistic is actually a vast improvement on the previous years, largely thanks to the greater use of the flu vaccine in vulnerable people. Why is this not reported in the news every year? because it happens every year and thus it is not news. However a few hundred people die from a virus that is almost indistinguishable and certainly no more fatal and the media use exercise their ability to cause mass hysteria. Whilst these deaths were indeed deeply tragic the majority of them came from nations with undeveloped healthcare systems where the general populous live in third world conditions. In the nations with more developed healthcare systems, including the UK, most diagnosed cases took place largely due to clinical and professional assumption. Currently one in every two hundred "confirmed" cases of H1N1 have been laboratory confirmed and they are symptomatically identical to the "human" flu.

The Department of Health current risk catagories for this "pandemic" is word for word identical to that of the yearly flu risk publication. The very young, the very old, and anyone with a chronic condition. Chronic Condition is a very broad term for any disorder or disease that can not be cured. This however does not mean it is fatal and can not be managed. This could be something as reletively harmless(if well managed) as Diabetes or a rapidly deteriorating disease like Motor Neurone Disease(MND). Several chronic conditions will not effect a patients vulnerability to influenza, however many conditions like Systemic Lupus Erythematosus(SLE) and other auto immune conditions require treatments that will effect a patients immune system(immunosurpressants mainly).

My arguement is not that swine flu is not a serious condition(it certainly can be). It is that it is no more serious than the annual flu and all this media and public hysteria may well draw attention away from the seriousness of the annual flu, many may not get vaccinated this year(or only get covered for swine flu) and a massive unnecessary loss of life may ensue.