By Peter Laird, MD
Many have incorrectly listed the 2009 H1N1 pandemic flu as a mild outbreak. It is true that the usual march of death through the elderly population never materialized, as well we did not see large outbreak among the dialysis population, however, what we did see was the loss of life in the young and often healthy. There are many theories on why the elderly were spared this time, such as, prior exposure to similar viruses decades ago, but the fact remains that this pandemic was a pandemic of the young. That is why comparing this flu outbreak to the usual seasonal flu is not correct. The average deaths among children with the seasonal flu is in the range of 40-50 children a year. However, to date the 2009 H1N1 pandemic flu has killed up to an estimated 1800 children in America.Swine flu has killed up to 17,000 in U.S.:
"CDC estimates that between 41 million and 84 million cases of 2009 H1N1 occurred between April 2009 and January 16, 2010," the agency said in a statement. Usually the CDC goes with a middle number, which it puts at about 57 million people infected.
Between 8,330 and 17,160 people died during that time from H1N1, with a middle range of about 12,000, the CDC said. But between 880 and 1,800 children died, up to 13,000 adults under the age of 65 and only 1,000 to 2,000 elderly.
In a normal flu season, the CDC estimates that 36,000 Americans die of flu, but 90 percent are over the age of 65. The CDC estimates that 200,000 go into the hospital, again mostly frail elderly people with other health conditions.
The swine flu pandemic has affected much younger people.
The H1N1 2009 pandemic flu is one of the deadliest flu epidemics seen in the younger generation and had many key features resembling the 1918 epidemic that killed millions worldwide. Why the elderly were spared is a subject of great interest, yet the facts remain that some nations had much higher death rates than others. Japan for instance closed schools and used a Tamiflu blanket as their national strategy to reduce the toll of death to their population while America blindly let the disease rampage through the population that in retrospect were most at risk.
In fact, the death rate of American children soared up to 3600% while among the elderly it fell to only 6% of usual seasonal rates. Among the young, the 2009 H1N1 rampaged through the population leaving death and destruction in its path. The only mystery is why the elderly were spared when compared to usual seasonal flu outbreaks. Epidemiological characteristics and low case fatality rate of pandemic (H1N1) 2009 in Japan:
In Japan, suspension of classes is commonly implemented even for seasonal influenza. For example, during the 2006–7 influenza season, 14,103 institutions (including day care centers, kindergartens and primary, junior high, and high schools) suspended classes. An even more aggressive suspension of class policy has been implemented for pandemic H1N1 in 2009. Between October 25 and December 5, 2009, 94,781 institutions had implemented suspension of classes. On the other hand, the CDC of the United States is not recommending such aggressive measures in the school setting.
The policies of the CDC should be soundly compared to those of countries such as Japan lest we once again sacrifice the young and healthy children, who are the future of this country, to failed policies from those responsible for protecting their health.
The deadly facts stand firm that the CDC failed our children. It was God alone that spared the elderly. We could and should have done better for our children. Unfortunately, the short memory of Americans preoccupied with the latest and greatest fashions and fads may actually look back at the 2009 H1N1 pandemic believing that the dangers of this virus was simply media hysteria and fail to prepare any better for the next pandemic that shall surely come. Implementing the same tactics with the next pandemic that does affect the sick and elderly could lead to death and misery of biblical proportions.
The deadly facts are in and we failed our children. It is time for the CDC to renew this historic failure to those that they are charged with protecting and not make the same mistakes the next time we face a deadly flu virus. It is time to learn from Japan and other nations who protected the young and innocent children.