Science

Swine flu could strike up to 40 percent in U.S. in two years

Posted July 24, 2009

— U.S. health officials say swine flu could strike up to 40 percent of Americans over the next two years and as many as several hundred thousand could die if a vaccine campaign and other measures aren't successful.

Those estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention mean about twice the number of people who usually get sick in a normal flu season would be struck by swine flu. Officials said those projections would drop if a new vaccine is ready and widely available, as U.S. officials expect.

The U.S. may have as many as 160 million doses of swine flu vaccine available sometime in October, and U.S. tests of the new vaccine are to start shortly, federal officials said this week.

The infection estimates are based on a flu pandemic from 1957, which killed nearly 70,000 in the United States but was not as severe as the infamous Spanish flu pandemic of 1918-19. But influenza is notoriously hard to predict. The number of deaths and illnesses would drop if the pandemic peters out or if efforts to slow its spread are successful, said CDC spokesman Tom Skinner.

A CDC official said the agency came up with the estimate last month, but it was first disclosed in an interview with The Associated Press.

"Hopefully, mitigation efforts will have a big impact on future cases," Skinner said.

North Carolina has 483 confirmed cases of swine flu, and five state residents have died from the illness, including two in Guilford County and one each in Wilson, Carteret and Cherokee counties.

In a normal flu season, about 36,000 people die from flu and its complications, according to American Medical Association estimates. Because so many more people are expected to catch the new flu, the number of deaths over two years could range from 90,000 to several hundred thousand, the CDC calculated. Again, that is if a new vaccine and other efforts fail.

The World Health Organization says as many as 2 billion people could become infected over the next two years - nearly one-third of the world population. The estimates look at potential impacts over a two-year period because past flu pandemics have occurred in waves over more than one year.

WHO officials believe the world is in the early phase of the new pandemic.

First identified in April, swine flu has likely infected more than 1 million Americans, the CDC believes, with many of those suffering mild cases never reported. There have been 302 deaths and nearly 44,000 reported cases, according to numbers released Friday morning.

Because the swine flu virus is new, most people haven't developed an immunity against it. So far, most of those who have died from it in the United States have had other health problems, such as asthma.

The virus has caused an unusual number of serious illnesses in teens and young adults; seasonal flu usually is toughest on the elderly and very young children.

New swine flu illness have erupted through the summer, which is also unusual, though cases were less widespread this month. Officials fear an explosion of cases in the fall, when children return to school and the weather turns cold, making the virus easier to spread.

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Associated Press Writer Frank Jordans in Geneva contributed to this report.

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  • MatrixEscapee Jul 24, 2009

    patriotsrevenge- the fact you work for large pharma says it all! Thanx

  • wattsun Jul 24, 2009

    Its funny how no one is investigating or even talking about the origins of this "lab made flu"
    If you are naive enough to believe that this came from pigs you are probably naive enough to get the vaccine as well.
    I pray you think twice before putting this untested garbage in your body.
    From TamiFlu Developer Adrian Gibbs: who collaborated on research that led to the development of Roche Holding AG’s Tamiflu drug, said in an interview that he intends to publish a report suggesting the new strain may have accidentally evolved in eggs scientists use to grow viruses and drugmakers use to make vaccines. Gibbs said he came to his conclusion as part of an effort to trace the virus’s origins by analyzing its genetic blueprint.
    “One of the simplest explanations is that it’s a laboratory escape,” Gibbs said in an interview with Bloomberg Television today. “But there are lots of others.”
    full article http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601124&sid=aShZig0Cig4g&refer=home

  • patriotsrevenge Jul 24, 2009

    TG, I have a Master's degree in microbiology and it just so happens that I work for a "large pharmaceutical company", don't take the vaccine, it's your funeral....I will be taking it. Not everything is a conspiracy.

  • original intent Jul 24, 2009

    Around 12,000 U.S. children will be used as guinea pigs for an experimental swine flu vaccine known to contain the dangerous ingredient squalene, which has been directly linked with cases of Gulf War Syndrome and a host of other debilitating diseases.

    According to a report in the Oklahoman, 12,000 children nationwide will partake in “fast-tracked studies” to test the side-effects of the untested swine flu vaccine in trials set to begin next month.

  • MatrixEscapee Jul 24, 2009

    "Let me answer that after your funeral. Vaccines are safe, effective, and relatively cheap. I WILL be taking mine." patriotsrevenge

    Sure... Vaccines are safe!! **hehehe** Where would the pharma industry be if it weren't for the sheep. The television says vaccines are safe so it MUST be true! The media also has a clip that claims that mercury in vaccines is good for you! **sigh**

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZArebYZzdc

  • colliedave Jul 24, 2009

    I thought once Barry was elected he would bring healing to the planet? What happened? Nothing like a diversion to distraction the people from a real crisis of a complete economic meltdown.

  • time4real Jul 24, 2009

    only 29,600 more deaths need to occur in this country to EQUAL deaths from the plain Jane flu!

  • patriotsrevenge Jul 24, 2009

    "I won't be one of those getting their flu shot. How stupid do they think we are?
    pmck

    Let me answer that after your funeral. Vaccines are safe, effective, and relatively cheap. I WILL be taking mine.

  • pmck Jul 24, 2009

    Wait - tell me again where this "flu" came from? And exactly who is making millions of $$ off of it? I won't be one of those getting their flu shot. How stupid do they think we are?

  • GinkgoPhyta Jul 24, 2009

    My biggest fear is that people are getting too complacent about this flu (maybe because of the media hype?). It penetrates and replicates deep within the lung tissue, unlike the seasonal flu. It is easily transmissible...even back to pigs and other certain mammals (scary because this could lead to different mutations). There is genuine fear...the more people infected = the higher chance of the virus swapping genetic material with another flu virus.

    Fortunately, the current strain does not have a high death rate. Lets hope it stays that way.

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