nos-trum. pronunciation: \nos'-trum\. noun. Etymology: Latin, neuter of noster our, ours.
1. a medicine of secret composition recommended by its preparer but usually without scientific proof of its effectiveness.
2. a usually questionable remedy or scheme.
See here for more discussion.

Monday, May 4, 2009

ARE THE THREE LITTLE PIGS, AND OTHER CARTOON SWINE, VULNERABLE TO H1N1?

I can tell from the news reports that the drama is starting to fade.  The media makes a story out of the outbreak, then makes a story out of the story of the outbreak.  Then we get the backlash story that there was no story, and on and on it goes, while we suck it up and the media makes money.

 

Let’s invent a term:  “epidemic fatigue”, n., of or pertaining to an emotional state of being tired of being afraid of a new disease, fed up with being pumped up with fears that the apocalypse has arrived.

 

Back to the real world.  There is still only one death in the US.  I heard one news anchor getting upset about that (a “where’s the beef” kind of reaction).  They clearly want some more trauma and disaster to report.

 

The states with the largest numbers have increases, but nothing dramatic—Texas went up by only one.  New Mexico still at only one, a real puzzle.

 

I heard one of the public health officials, saying they are “working the issue” of analyzing the data on severity, treatment, age, gender, socioeconomic status, concomitant disease.  Typical bureaucratic response.  Is there something else they’re working on that’s taking up their time?  They should be feeding this out broadband…yes, it will be incomplete and can’t be taken as definitive yet, but I don’t care.  I know how to tell when the data set is small, and how to not read too much into anecdotes and few numbers.

 

 

U.S. Human Cases of H1N1 Flu Infection
(As of May 4, 2009, 11:00 AM ET)

States

# of
laboratory
confirmed
cases

Deaths

Alabama

4

 

Arizona

17

 

California

30

 

Colorado

7

 

Connecticut

2

 

Delaware

20

 

Florida

5

 

Idaho

1

 

Illinois

8

 

Indiana

3

 

Iowa

1

 

Kansas

2

 

Kentucky*

1

 

Louisiana

14

 

Maryland

4

 

Massachusetts

6

 

Michigan

2

 

Minnesota

1

 

Missouri

1

 

Nebraska

1

 

Nevada

1

 

New Hampshire

1

 

New Jersey

7

 

New Mexico

1

 

New York

73

 

North Carolina

1

 

Ohio

3

 

Oregon

3

 

Pennsylvania

1

 

Rhode Island

1

 

South Carolina

15

 

Tennessee

1

 

Texas

41

1

Utah

1

 

Virginia

3

 

Wisconsin

3

 

TOTAL (36)

286 cases

1 death

International Human Cases of Swine Flu Infection
See: World Health OrganizationExternal Web Site Policy.

*Case is resident of KY but currently hospitalized

            Recommendations for your personal health and safety haven’t changed.  If you are using a mask, (1) remember that they need to be sealed when worn, handled with care, and discarded when they become moist, and (2) you’re a victim of panic, and need to get a grip.  Outside of healthcare workers taking care of hospitalized flu patients, or family caretakers of an infected person, there’s no need for them.  The risk data is clear; you are much more likely to be killed in an auto accident driving to the grocery store.

 

This outbreak is really unique, because it’s the first time we can see it evolve in real-time.  So many questions I have.  There are these lurches in numbers:  a few days stable, then a small burst.  We see cycles in other epidemic diseases, but the intervals are related to incubation times, or other biological factors that create ups and downs.  Influenza is pretty straight forward: quick exposure, short incubation.  The only thing I can think of right now is that the sudden micro-bursts are due to a single case that exposes a group, an escape from containment that we didn’t know about.  Anyway, there will be books written about this.

 

The WHO is now showing over a thousand cases in 21 countries.  No deaths except in Mexico still.

 

Most of you have probably seen the Pooh and Piglet cartoon.  Thanks to John for “exposing” me to it.  Google it, for a laugh (is this what they call “gallows humor?”).

 

Doc D

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