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The pandemic of the H1N1 flu-virus strain started in 2009 and quickly spread worldwide, affecting nearly 57 million people worldwide in February 2010. Death tolls were approximated around 18,500 towards the end of the epidemic, but those deaths were calculated based on reported cases of the Swine Flu.
A new study shows that the actual death rate, spanning the full course of the H1N1 pandemic, was actually closer to 284,400. This is 15 times greater than the original figure which was reported only on deaths from reported flu cases. The World Health Organization (WHO), who provided the original numbers on death tolls, even warned that their statistics were greatly underestimated due the many cases that are never reported, as some people don’t have access to healthcare and therefore never receive treatment.
In the latest study, a doctor from the CDC and her team, created a new technique to forecast pandemic death toll estimations. In this particular study, researchers started by looking at respiratory mortality rates by cross-referencing with cumulative virus-associated symptom presentation rates from 12 infected countries. They also did the same with cardiovascular mortality rates that were also affiliated with the pandemic. The findings yielded 201,200 respiratory-related deaths and 83,300 cardiovascular-related deaths, with both totals far surpassing the original number put out by the WHO.
The research study also showed that most of the deaths were in patients under the age of 65, a total of 80% of the total death rate, and that 59% of the deaths were found to be in Africa and Southeast Asia.
While this study has done a lot to open the eyes of people to the true impact a flu strain can have on our population (at least for those of us who weren't around during the 1918 pandemic), researchers are hoping for more. They would like for this study to make an impact on how people prepare for and handle pandemic situations, whether it be the flu or another fast-traveling disease. They hope that with the help of their findings more seasonal flu cases can be prevented, better responses can be produced, and possible vaccines can be made far ahead of any future flu pandemics.
Sources:http://www.medpagetoday.com/InfectiousDisease/SwineFlu/33463 http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/06/26/us-swineflu-idUSBRE85O1DF20120626 http://vitals.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/06/25/12404854-swine-flu-outbreak-15-times-deadlier-than-thought-study-finds