While perusing Wikipedia for information on influenza, I read the following paragraph. What caught my attention were the claims made about the recent cases of swine flu in Mexico.
Influenza spreads around the world in seasonal epidemics, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands annually — millions in pandemic years. Three influenza pandemics occurred in the 20th century and killed tens of millions of people, with each of these pandemics being caused by the appearance of a new strain of the virus in humans. Often, these new strains appear when an existing flu virus spreads to humans from other animal species, or when an existing human strain picks up new genes from an a virus that usually infects birds or pigs. An avian strain named H5N1 raised the concern of a new influenza pandemic, after it emerged in Asia in the 1990s, but it has not evolved to a form that spreads easily between people. In April 2009 a novel flu strain evolved that combined genes from human, pig, and bird flu, initially dubbed “swine flu”, emerged in Mexico, the United States, and several other nations. By late April, the new strain was suspected of having killed over 150 in Mexico, and prompted concern that a new pandemic is imminent. However, confirmed cases were lower, with only 10 deaths by the end of April, 9 in Mexico and only 1 in the both the US and Canada.
Wikipedia | Screenshot
Now, to be fair, a pandemic is defined by meeting three criteria:
Wikipedia | Screenshot
What I don’t like about the above paragraph is the statement that indicated a concern for an imminent “new pandemic” because of the deaths of 150 people in Mexico.
Yes, the paragraph goes on to state that only 10 cases of swine flu related fatalities have been confirmed, but let’s just be generous and say that all 150 of those deaths were caused by the swine flu.
Do the deaths of 150 people really create concern of a pandemic? I think we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves, and this paragraph confirms that, when we have a relatively small number of deaths, and we start shouting “pandemic”.
Am I being picky here, probably so. But let me give you some other numbers to put this whole “pandemic” into perspective.
Wolfram Alpha | Screenshot
Now those are some serious numbers. Why aren’t we hearing daily about the deaths that occur from simply driving our automobiles? Well, I guess it’s because we’ve grown accustomed to this reality. But I’d be willing to bet (and I’m not a gambling man) if the media would focus on the number of auto accidents and deaths, like they have been with the “swine flu”, we’d be afraid to even step foot in our cars.
I’m not saying the death of anyone is a minor thing, but let’s just put the latest flu epidemic, or pandemic, or whatever into perspective.
Just your average, self-abused futile worker.