Regular flu has killed thousands since January /La Influenza Ordinaria ha matado a miles desde enero


Spanish Version listed below Version en Espanol enlistada abajo

The following blog entry is from Pamela Thompson who is a registered nurse who has lived in Puerto Vallarta for over 17 years, 10 of them in health care. Pamela now leads Health Care Resources Puerto Vallarta, a local health care resource network.

Swine flu getting focus, but so far it’s not deadly in United States

Since January, more than 13,000 have died of complications from seasonal flu

Worldwide annual death from the flu estimated between 250,000 and 500,000

About 9 out of 10 flu deaths are among people older than 65.

There had been no confirmed deaths in the United States related to swine flu as of Tuesday afternoon. But another virus had killed thousands of people since January and is expected to keep killing hundreds of people every week for the rest of the year.



People are nervous about swine flu, but the regular flu kills 36,000 people a year in the United States.

That one? The regular flu.

An outbreak of swine flu that is suspected in more than 150 deaths in Mexico and has sickened dozens of people in the United States and elsewhere has grabbed the attention of a nervous public and of medical officials worried the strain will continue to mutate and spread.

Experts are nervous that, as a new strain, the swine flu will be harder to stop because there aren’t any vaccines to fight it.

But even if there are swine-flu deaths outside Mexico — and medical experts say there very well may be — the virus would have a long way to go to match the roughly 36,000 deaths that seasonal influenza causes in the United States each year.

“That happens on an annual basis,” Dr. Brian Currie said Tuesday. Currie is vice president and medical director at Montefiore Medical Center in Bronx, New York.

Since January, more than 13,000 people have died of complications from seasonal flu, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s weekly report on the causes of death in the nation.

No fewer than 800 flu-related deaths were reported in any week between January 1 and April 18, the most recent week for which figures were available.

The report looks at deaths in the 122 largest cities in the United States.

Worldwide, the annual death toll from the flu is estimated to be between 250,000 and 500,000.

About 9 out of 10 of those deaths are among people older than 65, Currie said. Most times, they already have health problems that the flu makes worse, he said.

“Regular influenza can be taxing,” he said. “It causes their underlying disease to decompensate and then they don’t have the reserves to get through it.

“While it may not be the direct cause listed on the death certificate, it certainly contributed.”

One of the reasons medical experts are nervous about the swine flu outbreak is that many of the people who have died in Mexico have been young and otherwise healthy. The strains found in the United States have so far been weaker.

But even the regular flu is sometimes fatal for younger victims.

“It’s not unheard of. It happens, either directly from influenza or they get a bacterial superinfection” like staph, said Currie.

While researchers haven’t developed a vaccine to fight the new swine flu, it can be treated with antiviral drugs Tamiflu and Relenza, the same drugs used on the regular flu.

Many times, seasonal flu itself is tough to prevent because it has mutated to a form different than it was when the vaccine was made.

Seeking to put the swine flu outbreak in perspective Tuesday, Los Angeles County public health officer Dr. Jonathan Fielding echoed other public officials calling it “cause for concern, but not for alarm.”

“Given the size of L.A. County, given the traffic between here and Mexico, it would be very surprising if we didn’t have any cases,” Fielding said.

He said the county, where the CDC had confirmed 10 cases of swine flu by Tuesday, sees more than 1,000 flu-related deaths every year.

“So it would also not be surprising if there were deaths with swine flu — even if it had the pattern of seasonal flu,” he said. “Thus far, the pattern we see in the United States is very similar to that of seasonal flu — relatively mild to moderate cases.”

Espanol:




La siguiente entrada del blog es de Pamela Thomposn, una enfermera registrada que ha vivido en Puerto Vallarta por más de 17 años, 10 de ellos en el cuidado de la salud. Actualmente, Pamela conduce los Recursos para el Cuidado de Salud de Puerto Vallarta, una red de recursos de atención a la salud.


Momentos culminantes en la historia

La influenza porcina ha obtenido atención, pero hasta ahora no es mortal en Estados Unidos.

Desde enero, más de 13,000 han muerto de complicaciones de la gripe temporal

En todo el mundo la muerte anual por la gripe oscila entre 250,000 y 500,000.

Alrededor de 9 de cada 10 muertes por gripe es entre las personas mayores de 65.

A partir del martes por la tarde no ha habido muertes confirmadas en los Estados Unidos relacionadas con la gripe porcina. Sin embargo, otro virus ha matado a miles de personas desde enero y se espera que siga matando a cientos de personas cada semana durante el resto del año.

La gente está nerviosa por la gripe porcina, pero la gripe regular mata a 36,000 personas al año en los Estados Unidos.

¿Ésta? La influenza ordinaria.

Se sospecha que el brote de influenza porcina está presente en más de 150 muertes en México y tiene enfermos a decenas de personas en los Estados Unidos y en otros lugares, ha ocupado la atención de un público nervioso y ha preocupado a los funcionarios médicos, ya que, creen que la cepa seguirá mutándose y propagándose.

La inquietud de los expertos es que, como una nueva cepa, la influenza porcina será más difícil de detener porque no hay vacunas para combatirla.

Pero incluso si hay muertes debido a la influenza porcina fuera de México – y médicos expertos dicen que es muy probable – el virus tendrá un largo camino que recorrer para que coincida con las cerca de 36,000 muertes que causa la influenza ordinaria en los Estados Unidos cada año.

“Esto ocurre en una base anual”, dijo el Dr. Brian Currie, el martes. Currie es el Vice Presidente y director médico de Montefiore Medical Center en Bronx, Nueva York.

Desde enero, más de 13,000 personas han muerto de complicaciones de la influenza ordinaria, de acuerdo con el informe semanal de los Centros para el Control y Prevención de Enfermedades sobre las causas de muerte en la nación.

No menos de 800 muertes relacionadas con la gripe se registraron en toda la semana entre el 1 de enero y 18 de abril, la semana más reciente para que las cifras fueran disponibles.

El informe analiza las muertes en las 122 ciudades más grandes en los Estados Unidos.

En todo el mundo, el número de muertes anuales derivadas de la influenza se estima entre las 250,000 y 500,000.

Aproximadamente 9 de cada 10 de esas muertes se dan entre personas mayores de 65 años, dijo Currie. La mayoría de las veces, ya tienen problemas de salud y la influenza las empeora, dijo.

“La influenza regular puede ser agotadora”, dijo. “Lo que le causa a la enfermedad subyacente a descompensarse y luego no tienen las reservas para sobrepasarla.”

“Si bien, puede que no sea la causa directa que enlistan en el certificado de defunción, pero sin duda ha contribuido”.

Una de las razones por las cuales los médicos expertos están nerviosos por el brote de influenza porcina, es porque muchas de las personas que han muerto en México han sido jóvenes y por otra parte saludables. Las cepas que se encuentran en los Estados Unidos han sido hasta ahora más débiles.