Flu and You

Well, actually, from the current stats, NOT you. For those who need something to worry about, however, read to the bottom.

CDC – Influenza (Flu) | Weekly Report: Influenza Summary Update 46, 2004-2005 Season

Week ending November 20, 2004-Week 46

The following information may be quoted:
During week 46 (November 14-20, 2004)*, influenza activity overall was low in the United States.
… However, in the Mid-Atlantic region there were increases in both the proportion of patient visits to sentinel providers for ILI and the percentage of laboratory specimens testing positive for influenza. Two states reported widespread activity, and 1 state and New York City reported regional activity. Thirty-one states and the District of Columbia reported sporadic influenza activity and 14 states reported no influenza activity.

It’s about 3/4 type-A, but enough type B that this year, should I actually see any flu, amantadine won’t be my drug of choice.
However, there’s even better news if you got this years’ influenza vaccine:

Antigenic Characterization:
CDC has antigenically characterized 11 influenza viruses collected by U.S. laboratories since October 1, 2004: nine influenza A (H3N2) viruses and 2 influenza B viruses. All of the influenza A (H3N2) isolates were characterized as A/Fujian/411/2002-like (H3N2), which is the influenza A (H3N2) component recommended for the 2004-05 influenza vaccine. Both influenza B viruses characterized were B/Shanghai/361/2002-like, which is the influenza B component recommended for the 2004-05 influenza vaccine.

So, luckily, the flu isn’t bad this year (so far; things can change), but to date we’ve been spared a horrible epidemic.

Speaking of horrible epidemics, WHO warns of dire flu pandemic

BANGKOK, Thailand — The World Health Organization has issued a dramatic warning that bird flu will trigger an international pandemic that could kill up to seven million people.

The influenza pandemic could occur anywhere from next week to the coming years, WHO said.

“There is no doubt there will be another pandemic,” Klaus Stohr of the WHO Global Influenza Program said on the sidelines of a regional bird flu meeting in Bangkok, Thailand.

“Even with the best case scenario, the most optimistic scenario, the pandemic will cause a public health emergency with estimates which will put the number of deaths in the range of two and seven million,” he said.

“The number of people affected will go beyond billions because between 25 percent and 30 percent will fall ill.”

No vaccine even possible before 2007 at the earliest.

I’m not hugely concerned, yet, about a bird-flu pandemic. I think I’d have an entirely different concern if I lived in a high-population-density country with lots of close contacts to birds (like Asia).


  1. WHO is desparately trying to drum up money and attention. Nonetheless, if you remember how one itty bitty apartment building in SE Asia ended up one of several focal points for serious pulmonary infections around the world (including doctors travelling 12 times zones to study it and bringing it back home), how can you imagine a bird flu pandemic in SE Asia not affecting all of the rest of the planet that has regular airline service?