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Weekly flu watch - What swine flu ISN'T doing this week
By Michael Fumento
Every Friday the CDC website publishes a situation update on swine flu with figures updated through the previous week, though some of the data is newer. And every week the hysteria-minded media ignore it. Statistics get in the way of articles filled with doom and gloom, of body bags and cemetery land set asides.
Anyway, why consult the data when you can offer plenty of anecdotes about people suffering from a "flu-like illness?"
But for those who do care about how our alleged pandemic is progressing, I will begin herewith to provide a weekly summary.
Total deaths since August 30 from "Influenza and Pneumonia-Associated" illness generally are 936, but only 114 of those have been laboratory-confirmed as being flu of any type. And yes, people do die of pneumonia from many causes other than flu.
The CDC no longer separately tracks swine flu cases or deaths. However, the FluTracker website does, and as of today lists 136, 268 confirmed U.S. cases with 644 confirmed fatalities.
By comparison, the CDC estimates 36,000 Americans die annually of seasonal flu, or about 257 per day during the season of approximately 140 days.
A word of caution, though. Those are reports from a sentinel system of laboratories. It's possible the laboratories were overwhelmed with specimens and simply couldn't keep up with the samples doctors forwarded to them.
But, the percentage of samples proving positive barely increased, from 22.55% to 23.87%.
Another way of looking at it is that over three-fourths of samples that even doctors (much less scared patients) suspect may show swine flu do not.
That's one indicator of hysteria.
Another is that even though the number of actual flu detections tested is down, the percentage of visits to outpatient clinics by people who think they have the flu continues to rise. In fact, if you look at the curve it's been practically shooting straight up for the past four weeks.
But apparently nobody but me has been looking at the data. Turns out that if you click on the link to take you to the underlying numbers, they're four weeks behind the figures in the chart. The CDC press office didn't even know about this until I asked. What does that tell you?
Finally, deaths from influenza and pneumonia are well within the normal bounds for this time of year.
So visits to emergency rooms and other outpatient facilities from people afraid they have the flu are way up while infections are apparently down. I don't call it "pandemic panic over a piglet" for nothing.