The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) no longer advises school closure for a suspected or confirmed case of the so-called swine flu. Schools that were closed based on the CDC’s earlier advice may reopen. (Read the CDC’s recommendations here.)
Is the swine flu a lot of hype? Some of our readers think so. Greg asks, “What’s all the hype about? People die from complications of the common cold, too. How many kids die each year in this country from hand guns? But do we do anything about that?”
“You just have to love hype,” says Eoghan. “How many people have died due to H1N1/Swine Flu? Last I heard it was under 2000. Now, who can tell me, how many people died as a result of the flu last fall?”
Good question. I looked up the answer at the CDC web site. Here’s what the CDC reports, noting that each flu season is different. On average, about 5% to 20% of U.S. residents get the flu each year, about 200,000 are hospitalized, and about 36,000 die each year from flu complications.
To put this in perspective, the leading causes of death in the United States are heart disease and cancer. These two account for 50% of the deaths in 2005, according to another CDC report. Other leading causes are stroke, chronic lower respiratory diseases, and unintentional injuries.
What are your thoughts about the swine flu today? Looking over the course of the event, why do you think we reacted the way we did? Was it an overabundance of caution—or a dress rehearsal for the deadly flu virus scientists predict will come one day?
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