WORLD Health Organisation
in Geneva moved the Influenza A, H1N1Swine Flu,
up to its highest level phase 6
, which indicates a world Pandemic.[ 1 ]
The reason given is the large increase in reported cases in Australia
. The elevation to Pandemic status does not indicate the severity of the strain, merely the geographic spread.
At this stage there have been 27,737 cases reported world-wide with 141 deaths (as at 10 June 2009).
Leading the pack is the USA with 13,217 cases (27 deaths); Mexico 5,717 cases (106 deaths); Canada 2,446 cases (4 deaths); Chile 1,694 cases (2 deaths); Australia 1,224 cases (no deaths);
UK 666 cases (no deaths). Indonesia has no reported cases.[ 2 ]
The media is having a field day – 106 deaths in Mexico and 27 deaths in USA. The sky is falling - shades of 1918 Spanish Flu.
What about a little perspective
Every year approximately 37,000 Americans die
as a result of complications caused by the seasonal flu [ 3 ]
– and we are getting our knickers in a knot because world-wide 141 people have died
Countries such as Indonesia
are stockpiling large quantities of Tamiflu
, in case the Swine Flu
mutates and starts killing large numbers. According to the WHO
that might just be a public relations exercise.
When asked: "Will the currently available seasonal vaccine provide protection against influenza A (H1N1)?
" their answer was "The best scientific evidence currently suggests that they will offer little or no protection.
" [ 4 ]
In short – No.
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If you want to look at the numbers try this:
(luckily) had no cases so far of H1N1 Swine Flu
. But it has had the highest number of Avian Flu (H5N1)
fatalities over the past 5 years – 126 deaths
.[ 5 ]
has the 3rd highest death rate from Tuberculosis, 150,000 a year! [ 6 ]
is not newsworthy enough. What is even sadder - TB is curable – nobody today should die from TB
Of course what has whetted the media's appetite is the potential for Swine Flu (H1N1)
to mutate into something like the 1918 Spanish Flu (also H1N1)
, which killed between 50 and 100 million people in 1918-19
The 1918 Spanish Flu killed more people in 25 weeks than:
Black Death (Bubonic Plague) in 4 Years
1347 – 1351 CE
The total number of people killed in the 5 Years
of World War I 1914 – 1918
The total number of people who died from HIV AIDS in the last 25 Years [ 7 ]
Why was it called "Spanish Flu"?
did have one of the earliest outbreaks with some 8 million people inf ected by May 1918
, and King Alfonso XIII of Spain
was one of the early victims. However Spain was not involved in World War I
and had no wartime censorship. It was the first to report the epidemic.
The belligerents suppressed news of the outbreak so the enemy would not find out that substantial numbers of their armed forces were incapacitated with the flu. The English called it "only the flu
" while the French public health officials referred to it as "the grippe
Note: In Spain they called it the " French flu "
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Most deadly for the 20 to 40's
usually kills the elderly and young children. However the Spanish flu
was most deadly for people aged between 20 to 40. This is thought to have occurred because the immune system of the elderly and the young is weakened and cannot easily fight the virus. People aged 20 to 40 are in the prime of life. Their bodies and immune system reacted, or in fact over-reacted to the unknown 1918 virus
. This caused the blood vessels in the lungs to burst and death was by drowning in one's own bodily fluids
Note: After-the-fact surveys of bloodstream antibodies suggest that 98% of Americans alive in 1918-19 had been infected [ 8 ]
First recorded case
before breakfast on Monday 11 March 1918, Company Cook
reported sick to the infirmary at Camp Funston, Fort Riley, Kansas
. He complained of a 'bad cold
'. Immediately behind him came Corporal Lee W Drake
with a similar complaint. By noon, Camp Surgeon Edward R Schreiner
had over 100 sick men, suffering the same symptoms. Within five weeks 1,127 people would be infected and 46 would die.
In March 1918 84,000
American "Dough Boys" set out for Europe. They were followed by another 118,000
Little did they know they were carrying with them a virus more deadly than the rifles they carried. Influenza
spreading among men living in close quarters did not alarm health officials at the time.
By May 1918 the killer flu had established itself in America
and was spreading spectacularly. Men on all sides sickened and died. Great Britain
cases in June alone. Numerous cases were reported in Russia, North
and South Africa, South American
The Pacific Ocean
provided no protection as the influenza spread to parts of China, Japan, Australia
and New Zealand
Please go to our earlier article for more details and some of the main characters involved with the >>1918 Spanish Flu
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The Spanish flu
was unusual in killing mostly young and healthy adults. Many would be struck down suddenly and within hours be rendered too feeble to walk. Many would die the next day.
Some 200,000 were killed in Britain
and more than 400,000 in France
. Statistics for Germany
are unavailable but it has been suggested that its surrender before any troops entered its borders may have been influenced by the high number of its army incapacitated by influenza.
An estimated 17 million died in India
alone. In the Indian army almost 22% of the troops who caught it died. This can be compared with the global mortality rate of between 2.5% and 5%.
At some point in late 1919 on a day lost to history, Spanish Flu made one final human being ill -
then mutated again and disappeared
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