Flu Watch Jan. 24, 2010 – Swine flu appears to be sweeping aside seasonal flu

Reported infections, deaths, hospitalizations all down. Again, though, when adjusted for the time lag they were probably the same as last week. The only thing that still interests me is the percentage of non-swine flu infections. That’s because, as I’ve noted, in countries like Australia and New Zealand, swine flu simply swept the seasonal flu aside. The result was a tremendous reduction in flu deaths as the milder swine flu inoculated people against the deadlier seasonal flu.

I repeatedly predicted we would see the same here and again this week we see evidence of that. Of the infections reported to the CDC labs last week, only four were clearly not swine flu. And here we are in mid-January, approaching what is normally the peak of seasonal flu season (mid-February).

Here’s a report from the Jan. 20 Minneapolis Star-Tribune:

“In ordinary years, the first seasonal flu cases typically show up in December and start mounting in January, said Richard Danila, deputy state epidemiologist. But so far, “there’s been virtually zero” confirmed cases of seasonal influenza, he said. ‘It’s really surprising.'” [Ahem! It wouldn’t be if he’d been reading my material!]

Danila said he’s never seen seasonal flu wait this long to make an appearance, adding: “But no one’s willing to say that it won’t come.”

Flu experts speculate the H1N1 virus may end up wiping out other strains of flu, in classic Darwinian fashion.

“Seasonal flu didn’t find a niche and still hasn’t found a niche yet of susceptible people,” Danila said.