Port Vila, Vanuatu (PressExposure) June 30, 2009 -- There is a universal concern over the number of people infected with the global outbreak of H1n1 virus, commonly known as swine flu â a blend of bird, human and pig flu genes. There have been 3,065 hospitalizations reported and 127 deaths.
An estimated 15 million to 60 million Americans, however, are infected by the seasonal epidemics of flu annually, with around 36,000 deaths reported. Common flu is classed as endemic â with seasonal epidemic recurrences. In the United States alone it is estimated that common flu results in :
â¢ 3 million days hospitalization, â¢ 30 million outpatient visits â¢ medical costs of $10 billion annually â¢ $15 billion lost earnings annually â¢ Total economic burden over $80 billion annually
The effect of H1n1 is mild when compared to the effects of annual influenza. Commencing in Mexico, there has now been an estimated 1 million people infected by swine flu in a America alone. However, the majority of patients quickly recover, says U.S. health officials.
"The estimate of 1 million victims is based on mathematical modeling", says a flu surveillance official from the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, Lyn Finelli.
Symptoms of the H1n1 are similar to the common flu. Severe symptoms of swine flu are â¢ trouble breathing, â¢ pain in chest or abdomen, â¢ recurring fever with rash, â¢ confusion, â¢ severe or consistent vomiting.
Officially called a pandemic, Swine flu is a sweeping epidemic of a new infectious disease, to which there is little or no immunity, spreading through human populations, across a large region. A widespread endemic disease that is stable in terms of how many people become sick, as in the common flu, is not classed as a pandemic.
June the 11th, the World Health Organization raised the level from phase 5 to phase 6 (more than three WHO regions affected by the disease). The last time phase 6 was used was the Hong Kong flu of 1968, which caused the deaths of nearly 1 million people.
However WHO has declared the severity of the swine influenza pandemic to be moderate, though the full clinical spectrum of the disease is not yet known. The biggest concern has been the number of young healthy people, with no pre-existing medical conditions, who have died from the swine flu.
The greatest fear is that the virus will begin to mutate and that underlying conditions will increase the effect of the virus. Health systems may be unable to cope.
WHO has no evidence that there is any danger connected with eating pork products and is not issuing any travel restrictions.
Dr Ira Longini, from Vaccine and Infectious Disease institute, Hutchinson Research Centre in Seattle, Washington, says "Things such as 'social distancing', (including wearing masks in crowded places) and seeking medical treatment can reduce the sickness by nearly two-thirds".
However, maybe we should all take more notice to the effects of the ordinary common variety of flu, which is the true killer hiding in our neighbourhood.
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