Friday, September 11, 2009

If you're not already feeling blue...

Here comes the big bad Swine Flu.

Late summer is normally the low point for influenza activity in the United States, but that's not going to be the case this year. The following graph from the CDC shows influenza activity for the the past 52 weeks (red) and the previous two years (green and blue).

I've added a red arrow to highlight the most recent data from last week. As you can see, in the past two weeks influenza activity has jumped from a somewhat elevated summer plateau up to levels that are usually seen during the worst part of the winter. State-by-state data confirms that an early outbreak is in progress, with the southern half of the country feeling the worst of it at the moment. (From using data from the CDC)

The big concern this year is the new strain of Swine Flu (H1N1) which most people have less natural immunity to, and which apparently has the potential to mutate into a more deadly pandemic strain. It would be a pretty big coincidence if H1N1 wasn't behind this unusually early outbreak. There was hope that a vaccine for H1N1 could be developed and distributed in time, but I'd say all bets are off now. (At times like this I'd be happy to pay double the normal cost for a vaccine, and shield vaccine companies from exorbitant lawsuits.)

I'm doing what I can to avoid infection and to minimize the pain if I don't. I've deployed my own bottles of hand sanitizer at work and at home. I've got cans of soup stashed away, juice in the 'fridge, and a fresh bottle of cough medicine in case I succumb.

I can think of one way to forge a win-win situation out of all this: at the peak of the H1N1 influenza outbreak, which could arrive in just a few weeks, they could declare the anticipated bank holiday and shut down the banks for a bit while we're all cooped up in our homes. It's not like we're going to need the money for shopping or travel at that point anyways.


linc campbell said...

Apprapos of nothing.... Thought you'd like this, esp the last paragraphs.

I can't speak about the service and no affilliation.

Cathy said...

Hey! I'm headed for Canada or Mexico. Apparently they've been spared this scourge ;-)

P.S. My word verification is "keyinfun"!