Swine Flu

Swine Influenza Virus (SIV)

also known as: Influenza A(H1N1)

The first known case of Swine Flu was back in 1976 in the USA.  David Lewis, an American army recruit, died from the virus and investigations found that 500 other recruits at the same base had been infected but only a few had shown any symptoms and no one else died.

In an attempt to prevent a pandemic President Ford got Congress to put $135 million into a rapid vaccination program.  The objective was to vaccinate 220 million Americans within a year.  As it happened 40 million were vaccinated before the program was stopped on account of the fact that the vaccination was killing a number of people.  There were 25 known deaths and many more paralysis cases.  That's approximately 1 death in 1.5 million, and in very round figures that makes the 1 in 500 about 300 times worse than the vaccination program.  These figures are not statistically significant but they illustrate the point that although people were very concerned about the deaths caused by the vaccine it may well be that there would have been far more deaths caused by the disease.

Joseph Califano who later became the Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare called the issue a fiasco but said that "...doctors had no choice but to err on the side of the caution.".  In 1983 Harvey V Fineberg & Richard E Neustadt published a book about the the epidemic called The Epidemic That Never Was: Policy-Making and the Swine Flu ScareThe Epidemic That Never Was

Swine Flu or Swine influenza is a flu like illness with flu like symptoms.  Typically a sufferer might experience chills, fever, sore throat, muscle pains, headache, coughing, weakness and general discomfort.  Most people infected with the Swine Flu virus recover and the majority have very mild symptoms.  The current outbreak of Swine Flu is (as I write April 2009) an unknown quantity.  It is possible that the fear of this illness may cause more distress than the virus itself.  It will be interesting to compare fatalities from Swine Flu with other figures like death rates on the roads for example.

More information can be obtained from:

There is an interesting page about pigs on Zyra's web site at http://www.zyra.tv/pigs.htm