Skip to content

Swine Flu Surveillance — Update

October 23, 2009

According to a CBS News report, “In late July, the CDC abruptly advised states to stop testing for H1N1 flu, and stopped counting individual cases.”  Their argument was that we already know there is a pandemic so why waste resourcing to confirm.  CBS actually requested the test results from all 50 states and they discovered something interesting.  Most of the people tested for swine flu/H1N1 didn’t even have the flu at all.  Of the 8853 samples in Florida, 17% had H1N1 and 83% didn’t have any flu virus.  Of the 13,704 samples in California, 2% had H1N1, 12% had seasonal flu and 86% didn’t have the flu.

So, if we rely only on signs and symptoms, we are dramatically overestimating the number of swine flu cases.

MSNBC has a silly map of US flu activity. Practically the entire map is dark red which indicates “widespread” with a few states coded for “regional.”  What does that mean?  Could they not get a number of cases per 100,000 people?  Oh.  Wait.  We’re not actually testing anymore which means we only know how many people we think possibly/probably have swine flu.

How will we know when the epidemic is over?

The CDC may be relying upon phone surveys in which they assume that almost all “flu-like illness” is due to H1N1.  Assuming from a phone survey?  Not exactly the most reliable epidemiological methodology.

Update:  Obama declares H1N1 a national emergency. This is presumably based on the assumption that everyone who feels sick must have swine flu because we certainly aren’t actually verifying anything.

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: