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How Serious is H1N1? Deaths and Transmission Rate Uncovered

posted by Mama Hope | October 28th, 2009 in Vaccines

How Deadly is Swine Flu? In a conversation with a family member recently, I was told, “There have been 1000 swine flu deaths and 5000 cases so far. That’s a 20% death rate. That’s serious. I’m afraid for the first time.” If this was true, it would be serious! But is it?

There’s so much confusion and fear and misinformation circulating lately about swine flu, I felt I needed to do some research. As my readers know I am known for my “no holds barred” research! This is what I found, and it’s a bit shocking!

H1N1 Swine Flue infection rate
(CBS)

Looking for accurate information on H1N1 deaths and transmission? Read below for answers:

Be sure to read to the end for important information about swine flu, scary thoughts on H1N1 vaccines, and how to boost your immune system to prevent swine flu!

Update: Lack of Testing Inflates Swine Flu Cases

CBS reports:

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?

Some public health officials privately disagreed with the decision to stop testing and counting, telling CBS News that continued tracking of this new and possibly changing virus was important because H1N1 has a different epidemiology, affects younger people more than seasonal flu and has been shown to have a higher case fatality rate than other flu virus strains.

CBS News learned that the decision to stop counting H1N1 flu cases was made so hastily that states weren’t given the opportunity to provide input….

With most cases diagnosed solely on symptoms and risk factors, the H1N1 flu epidemic may seem worse than it is. For example, on Sept. 22, this alarming headline came from Georgetown University in Washington D.C.: ‘H1N1 Flu Infects Over 250 Georgetown Students.’

H1N1 flu can be deadly and an outbreak of 250 students would be an especially troubling cluster. However, the number of sick students came not from lab-confirmed tests but from “estimates” made by counting ‘students who went to the Student Health Center with flu symptoms, students who called the H1N1 hotline or the Health Center’s doctor-on-call, and students who went to the hospital’s emergency room.’

Without lab testing, it’s impossible to know how many of the students actually had H1N1 flu. But the statistical trend indicates it was likely much fewer than 250…

According to the report, prior to the CDC officially instructing states to stop testing, about 83-97% of the suspected H1N1 cases actually tested negative for H1N1.

In two states, Alaska and California, 86-93% of those tested were actually negative for any type of influenza, caused most likely viral agents other than influenza type A & B.

Despite these figures, now *all* “suspected cases” are assumed to be H1N1. Statistically, this would mean that the current estimated number of H1N1 cases presented to the public is inflated by about 20 to 30 times.

[Edit: The CDC defines "influenza-type illness" or ILI as "fever (temperature of 100°F [37.8°C] or greater) and a cough and/or a sore throat in the absence of a KNOWN cause other than influenza”.]

Despite H1N1 now being diagnosed on flu-like symptoms and risk factors alone, in this video the CDC is quoted as saying that statistically only about 20% of those with “flu-like symptoms” actually have influenza at all.

CDC Track Record of Withholding and Falsifying Information

Why does the CDC continue to assert definitively that most cases of flue are H1N1 when laboratory testing is not being done? Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. wrote a very interesting and entertaining article about a secret meeting between the CDC and vaccine manufacturers.

It reveals some background information on how the CDC handles public information, the kind of relationship they have with pharmaceutical companies, and their ability to influence the supposedly objective results of scientific study:

Convened by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the meeting was held at this Methodist retreat center, nestled in wooded farmland next to the Chattahoochee River, to ensure complete secrecy. The agency had issued no public announcement of the session — only private invitations to fifty-two attendees. There were high-level officials from the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration, the top vaccine specialist from the World Health Organization in Geneva and representatives of every major vaccine manufacturer, including GlaxoSmithKline, Merck, Wyeth and Aventis Pasteur. All of the scientific data under discussion, CDC officials repeatedly reminded the participants, was strictly “embargoed.” There would be no making photocopies of documents, no taking papers with them when they left… (Rolling Stone)

H1N1 Cases: How Many Have Been Infected with Swine Flu?


It seems that very few of the “confirmed cases of H1N1 deaths” are actually laboratory confirmed H1N1 cases at all, as no testing has been done since July to sort out the actual H1N1 cases from the 83-97% which are most likely not H1N1. But the CDC is reporting “many millions” of H1N1 cases, 20,000 hospitalizations and 1,000 deaths in America. Again, there has been no actual testing to confirm H1N1 since July, except in California which has elected to test for H1N1 in hospital cases, despite the CDC instructing against it.

[Edit: I did some additional research and learned that a small percentage of cases in hospitals are still being tested with assistance from the World Health Organization (WHO). However, the CDC itself states that they are *not* requesting data on individual H1N1 cases, hospitalizations or deaths, official as of August. I found the following buried in their website:

The new definitions allow states to report to CDC hospitalizations and deaths (either confirmed OR probable) resulting from all types of influenza, not just those from 2009 H1N1 flu. This is a broader set of data than states were previously reporting as it now includes 1) laboratory-confirmed influenza for all types of influenza, and 2) pneumonia and influenza cases identified from hospital records, most of which will not be laboratory confirmed.

Due to CDC’s new case definitions, there will be no definitive way to differentiate between hospitalizations and deaths due to seasonal influenza versus those due to 2009 H1N1 influenza from aggregate reporting. And some deaths that are not due to influenza specifically will be included.

Why is this information not made more accessible to the public? Why are H1N1 deaths being reported without clear disclaimers as to accuracy?]

Up to July 15, California was tracking and lab testing both outpatient and hospitalized cases of H1N1. At that time California statistics of all laboratory confirmed cases of H1N1 showed 2655 laboratory confirmed cases and 441 hospitalizations. California now (October 17) reports 3556 hospitalizations and 233 deaths. California represents about 12% of the U.S. population, and California’s hospitalization figure is also near 12% of the CDC’s national hospitalization figure.

Assuming the country’s rate of hospitalization and infection is similar to California, one could very roughly estimate U.S. cases of H1N1 so far at about one hundred and seventy thousand.

What is the Rate of Deaths (CFR) from H1N1 Swine Flu?

As of 15 June 2009, the World Health Organization reported 35, 928 worldwide cases of influenza A(H1N1) infection, including 163 deaths (0.45%). As of July, European statistics showed 15,532 people afflicted with H1N1 and 29 deaths, or about .2 % (.0018). Estimates of the case fatality ratio based on the Mexican outbreak resembled the more recent WHO estimate: .4% death rate, with a margin of error of .3% to 1.8%.

  • So, during the summer — when laboratory testing was still being done — the most commonly estimated rate of death of H1N1 was .4%. Not 4% just .4% — four tenths of one percent, or a little less than one half a percent. At a .4% death rate, 1 out of every 250 infected may die.
  • A typical influenza outbreak has a .25% death rate, or 1 in 400.
  • Bird flu may have a rate of death as high as 70%, or 70 in 100.

A writer on Answers.com explains influenza and death rates:

For most forms of Influenza with no pre-existing health problems, the mortality rate is less than a quarter of a percent, or about 1 in 400. Cause of death is mostly due to respiratory failure, usually associated with secondary infections. (pneumonia etc..) Patients with compromised immune systems, the very young and very old, are much more susceptible. Some (rare) forms of influenza have much elevated mortality rates. Asian bird flu (H5N1) may have a mortality as high as 70%. The 2009 influenza A (H1N1) outbreak is of normal virulence at present, but its similarity in structure and origin to the 1918 pandemic flu has raised worldwide concern.

Recently however, some experts rate the H1N1 mortality rate even lower, as Harvard scientist Dr. Marc Lipsitch, who estimates the death rate of swine flue as comparable to that of any normal seasonal flu:

Barring any changes in the virus, I think we can say we are in a category 1 pandemic. This has not become clear until fairly recently.”

The Pandemic Severity Index set by the U.S. government has five categories of pandemic, with a category 1 being comparable to a seasonal flu epidemic. Seasonal flu has a death rate of less than 0.1 percent. (MSNBC)

It seems that the main reason H1N1 is troubling is not due to a high death rate, but actually due to the way it affects age groups differently. In H1N1, similar to the 1918 flu epidemic, death rates appear to peak not only in the under 4 and over 65 age ranges, but also in the 15 to 35 age ranges. This phenomenon can be seen in the curve of the 1918 flu death rates:

death rate H1N1 swine flu similar 1918 flu

In this “W shaped” curve, kids ages 1 to 15 and adults ages 35 to 65 are at the lowest risk of death.

But even these figures are based on a lot of statistical washing of data. Vincent Racaniello Ph.D., Professor of Microbiology at Columbia University Medical Center writes:

Determining how many people die from influenza is a tricky business. The main problem is that not every influenza virus infection is confirmed by laboratory testing… In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the US does not know exactly how many people die from flu each year. The number has to be estimated using statistical procedures.

How Deadly is Swine Flu?

In late July, Finland, the third healthiest country in the world according to Forbes magazine, did make an announcement regarding H1N1 flu — it removed H1N1 from a list of dangerous illnesses. Why? Because “the majority of sufferers are expected to recover without any medical or hospital care”.

Does this mean that in Finland swine flu is less serious because people are healthier?

Or that in Finland, where they know a thing or two about health, they don’t think swine flu is serious? You decide.

Should I Get the Swine Flu Shot?

Of course, all this begs the question of whether or not to vaccinate yourself or your kids.

We must all make this decision based on our level of health and how well we protect our immune system with:

  • Fatty fish and fish oils (such as salmon, kipper and sardines)
  • Vegetables and Vitamin C
  • Sunshine and Vitamin D
  • Co-factor minerals such as zinc and magnesium found in whole grains, nuts and leafy greens.

And of course, the unknown factor for many - how susceptible are you and your family to immune disorders caused by vaccines?

Fear is a powerful motivator. Hitler used it successfully, and so did IBM in 1970 with its invention of the FUD marketing strategy: Fear plus Uncertainty plus Doubt. FUD is now one of the most successful and commonly applied strategies around. You think maybe the media and the CDC are using it nowadays? (No I’m not saying all these guys are like Hitler! Just that they are using the same strategy!)

If you’re motivated by fear, you’ll have to make the decision to either:

  • Strengthen your immune system for swine flu protection, or
  • Get vaccinated.

If you’re going to be motivated by fear, though, get all the information and know all the things to be afraid of! How about this one?

Beautiful Cheerleader Develops Dystonia After Receiving Vaccine (Seasonal Flu Shot) - Inside Edition News

Makers Of Vaccine Refuse To Take H1N1 - RT News
“Even scientists who helped develop the vaccine for small pox are saying that they’re not going to take the [H1N1] vaccine and are urging their friends and family not to take this vaccine either.”

The CDC has opted to sacrifice the few, rare people who will be paralyzed or worse by autoimmune disorders triggered by vaccination.

We all must decide on which side of the wave of risks of life we want to ride - the risks caused by the rule of nature, where the strongest survive, or the risks caused by the rule of man, where we all serve as guinea pigs to science’s ongoing education on what works and what does not.

Love and Health,

Mama Hope

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8 Responses to “How Serious is H1N1? Deaths and Transmission Rate Uncovered”

  1. Missed you sweetness! Glad to see you back on your blog. I’m still at Funky Food Allergies but running tTownmoms.com too.

    How are your little ones?

  2. Hi! Sending you an email. tTownmoms looks like a great local resource!

  3. Great post - love the last paragraph:

    “We all must decide on which side of the wave of risks of life we want to ride - the risks caused by the rule of nature, where the strongest survive, or the risks caused by the rule of man, where we all serve as guinea pigs to science’s ongoing education on what works and what does not.”

    Fear sells papers, fear drives TV viewers, and fear sells vaccines. We really need to think for ourselves.

    Thanks for writing this!

  4. Good article. However two things; you should have addressed the disparity between the death rates of normal flu with H1n1. Your article lists the rates as less than .1% (MSNBC) and a few passages earlier you note that “a typical influenza outbreak has a .25%” fatality rate. This is a glairing discrepancy in your article given that the crux of this whole matter lies in the actual death rate compared with that of normal seasonal flu. What’s more, answers.com is a very poor reference. It calls the integrity of the article into question. Because the death rates are the most important piece of info for your argument, you should have cited a primary source. Also you misused the expression “Begs the question”. This is a particular logical fallacy and does not mean “demands the question.” Otherwise it was comprehensive and informative article.

  5. All I have to say is, “wow.” Thanks for being as thorough as you were, I love being able to actually take something away with me after reading things. Great job.

  6. Hank,
    Thanks for your feedback. In regard to clarity and accuracy, I can see the merit in your points, and I would certainly take them into account if I were being paid to write these articles, and paid for the extra time it would take to uncover more information and explain differences in recordkeeping and statistical methods that might account for the discrepencies! But of course this is a personal blog, and I honestly have to pat myself on the back for doing as much as I can to save other parents the time, and “share the work” among us busy folk.

    The main point that I hope to bring across in noting these references, is that death rates in and of their nature are statistical manipulations that, like any statistics, can be marred by available data as well as spun to suit the interests of the source. By having information from a variety of sources, rather than one, we can hope to come closer to making a judgment of our own, one in which we can never be 100% sure of accuracy, but will be enlightened by a sense of personal responsibility!

    Sarah,
    Thanks so much! It’s a lot of work doing health research and I think it’s worth it to share!

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