Public Health

Swine Flu: The Mystery Epidemic

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Part of the mystery comes from a federal government in such a tizzy to spread its vaccine and declare "national emergencies" that it doesn't think it's necessary to keep counting. Via CBS News:

In late July, the CDC abruptly advised states to stop testing for H1N1 flu, and stopped counting individual cases. The rationale given for the CDC guidance to forego testing and tracking individual cases was: why waste resources testing for H1N1 flu when the government has already confirmed there's an epidemic?

Riffing off the same story, Mickey Kaus notes:

Am I the only one…who finds reports like NBC's last night on the spread of swine flu ("galloping its way across the country") to be wildly unconvincing? The NBC piece claims "90 dead" last week under the rubric "swine flu cases."…As this CDC report makes clear, that figure includes both the swine flu and the regular annual flu. Indeed, NBC promiscuously conflates a) swine flu (H1N1); b) regular flu and c) "flu like symptoms" which may not be any kind of flu at all. … That may be because the CDC itself has decided to conflate at least the first two categories, as noted in this seemingly damning CBS story and confirmed in the CDC report itself:

This new system was implemented on August 30, 2009, and replaces the weekly report of laboratory confirmed 2009 H1N1-related hospitalizations and deaths that began in April 2009. Jurisdictions can now report to CDC either laboratory confirmed or pneumonia and influenza syndromic-based counts of hospitalizations and deaths resulting from all types or subtypes of influenza, not just those from 2009 H1N1 influenza virus. [E.A.]

I think this means the CDC does not really know how many cases are swine flu and how many aren't. (The regular flu kills many thousands of people every year.)

Past swine flu blogging from me.