Weekly Flu Watch IV – What swine flu ISN’T doing

Total deaths since Aug. 30 from “Influenza and Pneumonia-Associated” illness are 2,029 reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Web site FluView. But only 292 of those have been laboratory-confirmed as flu of any type. (And yes, people die of pneumonia from many causes other than flu.) By comparison, the CDC estimates about 260 Americans die each day from “regular” flu during each season.

And the Swine Flu Count Website shows about as many swine flu deaths worldwide in the last six months as the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates die every six days from seasonal flu. The FluTracker Web site provides a running tally of new worldwide cases and deaths, telling us they are no more frequent than a month ago.

The massive outbreak on college campuses you’ve been heard about? The American College Health Association’s latest weekly survey at this writing shows a steady decline in cases over the last four weeks. The “explosion” has been imploding.

What we’re seeing is “pandemic panic.” FluView reports that only 29 percent of samples from surveillance laboratories are testing positive for swine flu. That means that fewer than a third of the samples that even doctors (much less scared patients) suspect may show swine flu actually show influenza of any type.

Another indicator of hysteria is that the percentage of visits to emergency rooms and outpatient clinics by people worried they have the flu – and worried enough to seek medical attention – is incredibly high: almost 7 percent of all US emergency visits now.

That’s the most it’s been since 2004 and it’s skyrocketing.

I predicted the Council’s projections regarding swamped emergency rooms would be the only accurate part of the report. Don’t call me Nostradamus. Just a guy with a few IQ points and a modicum of honesty.