All Summer long, swine flu has made it into the headlines on a weekly, if not a daily, basis. This flu was quickly declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization, not because of the number of deaths due to this strain of the virus, but because it spread worldwide with speed.
A blogger over at Newsweek wants to add a little perspective to the media coverage of H1N1. Here is some history: In 1967, the last pandemic, caused by the Hong Kong flu, killed 700,000 people. For comparison, in the US so far 447 have died from the swine flu. This round of swine flu virus is similar to a typical flu season, but even a typical flu season comes with fatalities. However, most flu deaths occur because of complications, mostly pneumonia, or due to an underlying chronic condition — diabetes being one.
See how seasonal flu deaths compare to heart disease when you
Another comparison from Newsweek: seasonal flu is responsible for one in 5000 deaths, while heart disease is responsible for one in 50 deaths per year. But you don't contract heart disease on the subway, which increases the fear factor that accompanies H1N1. That and the fact that this flu targets younger, healthier people.
As schools consider plans for closure should the need arise, and as flu vaccines are manufactured, I think we best approach the season with clear heads and clean hands. Hand washing is still considered the best defense against the flu. I say stock up on hand sanitizer now to avoid the rush when flu season hits. Is your fear level about swine flu growing?